Finance Minister AMA Muhith has said the power, education, and health and sanitation sectors will be prioritised in the upcoming budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
The size of the next budget will be around Tk 300,000 crore, he said at a pre-budget meeting with think-thanks at the NEC conference room in the city on Sunday.
The finance ministry hosted the meeting to gather the views of the think-thanks to formulate the upcoming national budget.
“Power, education, health and sanitation sectors will get priority in the next budget,” the Finance Minister said.
He, however, expressed his doubt over achieving the target of 7 percent GDP growth in the current fiscal. “I hoped even till December last that 7 percent growth would be achieved, but now I’m doubtful due to the political situation of last three months,” he added.
The Finance Minister said there are huge land-related litigations ongoing in the country. “The only solution to reducing the litigation is to devote the whole attention to land administration. Unfortunately nothing is given.”
The think-tanks at the meeting suggested the government formulate an investment-friendly budget addressing policy-level reforms for exceeding the 6 percent growth cycle.
“We’re going to launch the 7th five-year plan through the next budget. So, in the critical juncture, our key challenge is to break the cycle of 6 percent growth rate as many economists think Bangladesh has potential to reach 7 percent growth,” said Dr. Mustafa K. Mujeri, Director General, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).
Dr Zaidi Sattar, Chairman of Policy Research Institute (PRI) emphasised strengthening both external and internal trade policies.
He said the government should concentrate on the potent manufacturing sector.
Dr Ahsan H Mansur, Executive Director of PRI, suggested changes in the policy level in the budget for attracting the foreign direct investment (FDI), adding that FDI is a ‘crying-need’ for our best-performing readymade garment sector.
He said high tax should be imposed on a host of chemicals that cause health hazards as well as tobacco, if the government really wants to control the use of the chemicals and tobacco in the country.
Dr Ashraf Uddin Chowdhury, President of Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA) urged the finance minister to take bailout measures for the sectors that have been really badly affected by the recent political turmoil.
He also emphasised proper loan management so that no one can get scope to mishandle bank funds.
Dr Jamaluddin Ahmed, general secretary of BEA said the government should take measures to drive the incoming remittances, which is being mostly used for consumption, into investment.
“During the political instability, the consumption-prone remittance flows in at higher rate. But we need to drive the consumption-prone remittance to investment-prone remittance,” he added.
The think-tanks also suggested improving the land management system, walkways in the cities especially in the capital, enhancing double-decker buses, providing cash incentive to actual thrust sector of export, strengthening monthly wise monitoring system to implement projects properly and prioritising improvement of the key infrastructures in the upcoming national budget.