Dhaka, Bangladesh
Budget implementable, growth achievable

Budget implementable, growth achievable

PM reassures, finance minister sounds upbeat despite pandemic

News Report: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina hoped her government would be able to implement the proposed Tk 5.68-trillion budget the way it did in previous fiscal years, despite the current health emergency. Speaking in parliament Monday on the finance bill, she described the reasons behind placing such ambitious national budget with an 8.2 percent GDP-growth target and expressed her optimism about being able to navigate through the coronvirus-induced crisis at home and abroad into a better day ahead. Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, while moving the bill, also sounded upbeat about getting to the goals set in the budget. “We never failed to implement budgets in the past, and Inshallah we won’t fail in the future, too. We never suffer from a sense of frustration. We always march forward with a specific work plan fixing a goal,” the PM said. Sheikh Hasina assured the people of the country that the Awami League government would strongly face any possible crisis, no matter what. “No one will remain unfed.” Noting that many people say that the government is very optimistic about the budget, she said, “We’re hopeful that there’ll be a recovery from this situation. So, we’ve taken this step considering it. If there’s no end to Covid (situation), we may not be able to implement it. But, I think, we should have a preparation. So, we placed this ambitious budget. We’ve placed it as we’ve a desire to improve the living standard of people.” Hasina mentioned that four assumptions had been taken into account while fixing the 8.2 percent GDP growth target in the budget palaced amid the Covid-19 pandemic. “We hope the world economy as well as the domestic one will come out gradually from the (adverse) impacts of the Covid-19 in 2021. The Bangladesh economy will return to its previous condition. So, we’ve estimated an 8.2 percent GDP growth in the budget for 2020-21 fiscal year,” she said. Hasina said the government has taken necessary measures to maintain stability in macro economy and low inflation rate. Elaborating on the four assumptions considered in estimation of 8.2 percent GDP growth, she said though economic activities were hindered, there was no damage to economic infrastructures as happens during natural disasters or wars. Besides, she said, the supply demand in the domestic market will increase as the public expenditures will go up to create jobs and increase the incomes of people. “And if the stimulus packages announced by the government are implemented, the production and the supply chain will get normal again.” She said it is expected that the vaccine for Covid-19 may come up in the market in October- November next, “and if so, the lifestyle of people will soon get normal in Europe and America, and the export incomes of Bangladesh will return to the previous level. Besides, Hasina said, fuel prices are on gradual rise in the international market. “So, the present crisis of Bangladesh regarding the overseas employment and remittance will go away. “ The Prime Minister expressed her firm hope that Bangladesh would again resume the march toward its development trajectory by successfully overcoming the economic impacts caused by Covid-19 pandemic. Moving the bill in the House, the finance minister in his winding-up speech also expressed his high optimism about implementing this budget and attaining the GDP growth even in this adverse situation of Novel Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). “The Asian Development Bank projected our GDP growth to be 7.5 percent for the next fiscal which is closer to our projection of 8.2 percent. Insha Allah, we will be able to implement the budget, to implement this budget all people of our country will need to come forward,” he said. He said that the people of the country got the highest priority during this pandemic as the aim of the government is to save the people and also revive the affected economy. He mentioned that the Prime Minister already had announced 19 stimulus packages which are under implementation level. The Minister said that in this budget, the government has given highest importance on the health sector and allotted Taka 29,247 crore. Besides, to face the COVID-19 pandemic, additional Taka 10,000 crore has been proposed. He said that at the beginning of formulating the budget, the Prime Minister asked him to give due priority to the roots of the country. “Our root is our agriculture and our rural economy. For that we have given extra importance on agriculture sector where 40 percent of our employments are generated,” he said. Kamal believed that this agricultural sector would be the unique area of country’s advancement. The Finance Minister said that people from various sectors are now under difficulties and pain due to the stagnant economic situation in the country and this budget is for all. “I can’t exclude anyone from this budget, if I could have left anyone, then the size of the budget would have been small with the budget deficit, but the truth is very much tough, and we have loved the truth knowing everything,” he said. Opposition bench members Pir Fazlur Rahman, Harun Ur Rashid, Shamim Haider Patwari, Fakhrul Imam, Begum Rawshan Ara Mannan, Kazi Firoze Rashid and Mujibul Huq proposed publishing the Finance Bill for eliciting public opinions. In response, the Finance Minister expressed his firm stance not to spare anyone involved in any anomaly in the banking sector. “We have to go much more path, we have to walk far, but this path is not smooth, we can do that if we get help from all,” he said. The Finance Bill 2020 was passed by voice vote with little changes and accommodation. With inputs from live coverage, agencies

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