Give priority to health sector, economic recovery in next budget: Experts

Staff Correspondent

5 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Leading economists on Tuesday stressed the need for a recovery-focused budget for 2021-22 fiscal, putting the highest priority on the health sector alongside focusing on sound macroeconomic management, widening social safety nets, raising the tax-GDP ratio and job creation.

The leading economists also emphasized strengthening the ongoing vaccination programme.

They also underscored the need for tax reforms, proper budget implementation and quality spending on development projects, addressing the livelihood issues in the context of the pandemic, prioritizing the CMSMEs and bringing the education sector under the purview of the stimulus packages.

The country's leading economists, professionals, business leaders, and civil society representatives came up with the recommendations at a webinar on "Macroeconomy: Expectations from National Budget 2021-22" held on Tuesday.

 Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh (ICAB) and the Economic Reporters' Forum (ERF) jointly organized the webinar.

Prime Minister's Economic Affairs Adviser DrMashiur Rahman spoke at the webinar as the chief guest.

BGMEA President Faruque Hassan, MCCI President Barrister Nihad Kabir, DCCI President Rizwan Rahman, former adviser to the caretaker government Rasheda K Chowdhury, Chairman of Trustee Board of BUILD Abul Kasem Khan, Executive Director of PRI Dr Ahsan H Mansur, FICCI President Rupali Haque Chowdhury, former President of AmCham AKM Aftabul Islam, distinguished fellow of CPD Prof Mustafizur Rahman, senior research fellow of BIDS DrNazneen Ahmed, Chairman of PEB Dr M MasrurReaz, executive director of SANEM DrSelimRaihan, chief news editor of the Daily Prothom Alo ShawkatHossainMasum, BASIS President Syed Almas Kabir, ICAB Vice Presidents SidharthaBarua, Md Abdul Kader Joaddar and council member of ICAB Mohammad Forkan Uddin addressed the webinar.              

Stressing the need for carrying out necessary reforms in the financial sector and in the revenue sector, PM's Economic Affairs Adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman said reforms in the capital market and bond market is also necessary to attract large scale investors.

Rasheda K Chowdhury said that the next year's budget should be a pandemic-focused one while the education sector should be brought under the stimulus package.

Executive director of PRI Dr Ahsan H. Mansur proposed allocating Tk 150 billion for vaccination in the next budget.

CPD Distinguished fellow Prof Dr Mustafizur Rahman emphasized generating more employments, giving relief to the import substitute Industries through taxation, revisiting the import regulations, enhancing quality expenditure, and ensuring necessary reforms. He was also of critical about the scope for whitening undisclosed money.

BGMEA President Faruque Hassan urged the government to provide policy support to the affected industries till the crisis ends so that those could make a quick turnaround.

MCCI President Barrister Nihad Kabir stressed on qualitative spending of development budget through real-time monitoring and evaluation, raising the tax-GDP ratio, giving policy support to CMSMEs, and checking tax dodging and money laundering.

DCCI President Rizwan Rahman suggested reducing the corporate tax rate progressively by 2.5 per cent in the next three years and thus bring it to 25 per cent to support businesses.

Abul Kasem Khan of BUILD suggested the continuation of the stimulus packages in the next budget as well as rationalizing taxation measures and improving the investment climate.

BASIS President Syed Almas Kabir suggested keeping the digital transaction out of the purview of VAT for the next 3 to 5 years.