Pandemic-focused budget needed

23 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Government presents a budget every financial year to materialise its dream of future and to execute its development goals on the basis of probable income, expenditure. Government will present its Budget for FY 2021-2022 when a Covid-19 pandemic is spreading all over the country causing thousands of deaths and losses to our national economy.

The pandemic has affected production, distribution, supply of food, export-import, domestic business and commercial activities of the people and remittance in the country impacting our national income. International organisations are predicting worldwide famine if the situation continues for long. It will be a challenging budget for the nation at this Covid-19 pandemic time.

The economists and medical experts have stressed spending more on healthcare. Last year in the budgetary allocation, Government had increased expenditure in health, agriculture and social safety net considering lives and livelihood of the people. Government has taken all necessary measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic with limited resources from the very beginning of the outbreak of the pandemic. Government has taken austerity measures for making the budget fruitful and to reach its development goals within the fixed time.

When the Government assumed power in 2009, it took several steps giving preference to Agriculture, Health and Social Safety Nets sectors. Government has taken steps to develop human capital by educating people through general, technical and vocational education and training and opening up more public and private medical colleges in the remote areas of the country. Opening up more public and private medical colleges in the country will give positive result in the health sector in the future. More public and private Science and Technology Universities were established in the country to employ the unemployed generation.

The Government has stressed on rural development, to develop rural roads and communication networks to gear up the rural economy. Government had increased allocation for digital infrastructures for digital economy. Government has accelerated and supported to make more employment opportunities in the country by taking several mega projects like Deep Seaport, Elevated Expressways, Metro-Rail, Bridge, Over Bridge, Nuclear Plants, and Sending Satellite to the Space, Railways Extension, and Blue Economy, etc. We know that if we want to achieve the target of 8.2 per cent GDP growth within the next few financial years, we must ensure job security and create job opportunities in both public and private sectors.

Sectors can be prioritised in this FY 2021-2022:  01) Health: Health sector can be prioritised for highest allocation for more health facilities to the general people. Health is the fundamental right of people and health facilities needs to reach the grassroots of the country. COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to evaluate the strength of our healthcare service sector. We shall have to develop more infrastructures and platforms to strengthen our health sector. So, more budget allocation is needed for this.

02) Agriculture and Rural development: Demand is increasing for advanced agriculture and diversification of agriculture and rural economy for supplying more food to increasing population and other raw materials to the final food manufacturing plants. We need more financing in the rural areas to accelerate agriculture production, increase agro-based activities and encourage small, medium agro-farm like poultry, dairy, animal husbandry, handicrafts, fisheries, wooden furniture projects, herbal medicine farms, medicinal herbs, etc. It can help directly or indirectly to solve unemployment problems in the rural areas and the rural economy can gear up to assist the urban economy. Rural development finance is needed to open more opportunities of production, income, employment, reduction of rural-urban migration to a great extent and for balanced development in the country.

03) Human resource development: Human resource development plays a significant role in sustainable economic development. The Government has emphasised human resource development in its national planning and agenda. It has been allocated highest in the annual budget for Human Resource Development sectors such as - education and technology, health and family welfare, youth and sports development, etc.

4) Research and Development (R&D): Without a R&D program, a company may not survive on its own and may have to rely on others by engaging in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) or partnerships. Through R&D, companies can design new products and improve their existing offerings. Research creates new ideas, new products and services, increases competition among allied products. It also makes better performance for making the organisation a reputable brand, increasing exports and earning power.

Serum Institute of India is an Indian biotechnology and pharmaceuticals company. It is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer. It has researched and developed vaccines in collaboration with foreign research institutes like the Oxford University. So, we too may be able to do the same in our country. Here it may be mentioned that the Serum Institute of India has successfully manufactured the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine which is being used worldwide including in Bangladesh as an antidote to the COVID-19 pandemic. The same is applicable for the Pfizer-BioNTech. Thus, if we are able to innovate new products and services in the market by more research and development, we will succeed in many more ways to develop our national economy.

5) Social safety net: Budget allocation may be increased in this financial year for social safety net, social security and welfare for the extreme poor. Other allocations may be chosen for improving the industrial sectors of RMG, Leather, Energy and Power etc.


Md. Muzibur Rahman, a columnist