Budget a catalyst for survival, progress amid pandemic

Special Correspondent

3rd June, 2021 10:27:12 PM printer

Budget a catalyst for survival, progress amid pandemic

Attempts to promote hygienic life and environment-friendly socioeconomic progress are the salient features of the proposed national budget for 2021-22 fiscal year placed by Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in Parliament on Thursday.

As the public life and economy are hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, the budget has stressed measures to mitigate the losses.

The very theme of the budget 'Priority to lives and livelihoods, tomorrow's Bangladesh' is enough to understand the objectives.

Special priority has been given to health, agriculture, social safety net, employment, food, disaster management and food security.

A hike in prices of cigarettes and tobacco products has been proposed in the budget to keep people away from the hazardous items.

"I propose to fix the price of lower slab of cigarette per 10 sticks at Tk 39/- and above and supplementary duty on it to be 57 per cent. Apart from this I propose to fix the price of medium slab cigarette per 10 sticks at Tk 63/- and above, high slab 10 sticks cigarette at Tk 102/- and above and the price of premium slab at Tk 135/- and above where supplementary duty for all the three slabs will be 65 per cent," the minister said.

To make the country’s progress sustainable and overcome global competitiveness, the budget has set a target to create skilled manpower.

The budget has suggested reducing the cost of IT-related items to facilitate technical education.

Digital Bangladesh is another characteristic of the budget which has allocated money to facilitate e-judiciary and automated land management.

Capacity-building of courts, registration offices and various land offices is aimed at reducing case backlog, hassle-free mutation and land records.

Eight lakh more poverty-stricken elderly citizens will be covered under the "old-age allowance" in the new financial year.

At the moment, 49 lakh elderly citizens of 112 upazilas are covered under this allowance, while the new budget has included another 150 upazilas belonging to the extremely high and high poverty groups.

An additional allocation of Tk 481 crore has been proposed for this particular allowance programme. The allocation in the previous fiscal year was Tk 2,940 crore.

The proposed budget has sought VAT exemption on sanitary napkin production to maximise menstrual hygiene and reproductive health.

As the country is set to graduate from the group of least developed countries, the budget has proposed strategies to tackle post-graduation challenges.