Tk 6.03tn outlay to focus on health, agriculture, social safety-net
The government unfurls the national budget for the next fiscal year (FY), 2021-22, today (Thursday), prioritising Covid-19, health sector, social safety-net and agriculture.
Finance Minister A H M Mustafa Kamal is set to place the budget titled ‘Jibon jibikar pradhanaya diye sudriro agamir pothe Bangladesh’ (Bangladesh on the path of a robust future, prioritizing life and livelihood) before the Jatiya Sangsad at 3:00 pm.
The budget, the country’s 50th since the independence, will be the 13th budget in a row by the ruling Awami League government. It will be the third consecutive budget, placed by the incumbent finance minister. The auditor-turned-politician’s budget speech will be a brief one, officials told the FE.
The fiscal blueprint comes with a record outlay of Tk 6.03 trillion, up by over 6.0 per cent than the budget size of this FY.
Of the Tk 6.03 trillion, Tk 3.92 trillion is expected to come from the National Revenue Board (NBR), non-NBR and non-tax revenue. The NBR alone is supposed to contribute Tk 3.30 trillion, an amount equivalent to the original NBR tax revenue target set in the target in the current fiscal year.
The budget deficit is going to break its traditional band of 5.0 per cent of the GDP, with the imbalance reaching 6.2 per cent after many years.
The budget support from external sources is expected to stand at nearly Tk 980 billion. The remaining deficit amounting to Tk 1.13 trillion is likely to be met from various domestic sources, including national savings certificates.
The GDP growth rate may be targeted at 7.2 per cent, and the inflation rate at 5.3 per cent, officials concerned said on Wednesday.
A senior official at the Finance Division said the budget would mostly focus on the health sector.
He also said implementation of incentive packages, announced by the Prime Minister to fight the Covid pandemic, agriculture sector and food security would also be prioritised.
The existing social safety net programmes would be widened further, he added.
Mr Kamal is going to present his third budget at a time when the economy is facing a serious impact of the coronavirus second wave, which is affecting the economy and the people.
Several economists talking to the FE said in addition to prioritising the health sector, vaccination and rural economy in the budget, there should be particular efforts to accelerate the rate of project implementation by utilising the allocations.
The budget needs to be expanded further to help stimulate the spending, needed now for recovery of the economy, they opined.
Dr Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI), said the government should widen the budget for the interest of the economy amid the ongoing pandemic.
The economy might face the setback due to the virus outbreak, and higher resource allocation could help minimise this, he opined.
Dr Zahid Hussain, an independent economist, told the FE: “The budget size is not important; we need to accelerate the rate of its implementation.”
He said (prioriotising) health sector and vaccination might be the tools for a sustainable economic recovery amid the coronavirus outbreak. Without achieving wide-scale vaccination the economy would continue to face uncertainty.
He also stressed the need for increased allocation for health, social safety net, rural economy and education in the budget and implementation of the relevant projects.
Like the previous years, this year also the budget will be presented on PowerPoint, and documents will be available on the website of the Finance Division — www.mof.gov.bd.
Mr Kamal will speak at a post-budget press conference virtually tomorrow (Friday).