By Mustafizur Rahman
The Bangladesh government has reduced its allocation for water and sanitation by around 10 billion taka (US$ 121 million) in the proposed 2012-13 budget. This is 29 per cent less than in 2011-2012. Just two months earlier at the SWA High Level Meeting in Washington, DC, the government had committed to increase the allocation for sanitation and water supply by 50 per cent. 
Speaking at a press conference in the capital Dhaka, WaterAid country representative Md Khairul Islam said that the government should raise the water and sanitation allocation and bridge the disparity between urban and rural people.
Economist Abul Barkat, chief researcher at the Human Development Research Centre, criticised the current development budget for being heavily urban biased, with 90 per cent going to urban areas (including 52 per cent to the cities of Dhaka and Chittagong) and 10 per cent to rural areas.
Both Khairul and Barkat rejected finance minister AMA Muhith’s claim, made in his budget speech on 7 June, that Bangladesh had the highest sanitation coverage – 91 per cent – in South Asia . The two experts said the real figure was only 60 per cent , while Sri Lanka has achieved 92 per cent in terms of improved sanitation.
Bangladesh aims to reach 100 per cent sanitation coverage by 2013.
 Statement of Commitments by the Government of Bangladesh Sanitation and Water for All Second High Level Meeting, 20th April 2012, Washington D.C. Download full text
 Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Budget Speech 2012-13, Daily Star, 07 Jun 2012
 According to the latest figures from UNICEF/WHO, in 2010 only 56 per cent of the Bangladeshi population has access to improved sanitation (Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012 Update)
Related news: Bangladesh: WaterAid gets Swiss and Swedish grants for WASH projects, E-Source, 27 December 2011
Related web site: WASHwatch.org – Bangladesh
Source: New Age, 13 Jun 2012