Setting priorities right in budget

2 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Saving lives from the onslaught of pandemic and helping the economy to reover are reportedly the priorities in the upcoming national budget for fiscal 2021-2022 which the government is all set to unveil on Thursday. This is going to be our second budget during the pandemic and there is nothing else except the health crisis that needs to be dealt with urgently.

The government has rightly given special priority to the health sector in the current budget which saw a 33% year-on-year increase in budgetary allocation. Besides, Tk 100.00 billion was especially allocated for the health sector to combat the fallout of coronavirus pandemic during the ongoing fiscal year, a portion of which is now being used to procure vaccine.

This year too there is a need for increased budgetary allocatin in health sector to improve hellth care facilities as Covid-19 has exposed some glaring flaws in our health care system. Even though it is reassuring that the government and healthcare professionals have been trying their best to tackle the surge in patients with our limited resources.

Now with the availability of Covid-19 vaccine, there is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. In the upcoming budget a sizable portion must be allocated to procure vaccine since Bangladesh needs millions of dozes of vaccines and cannot afford to procrastinate in buying those. So far we have vaccinated about 50 lakh people with second doses, but according to experts there is a need for inoculating at least five crore people to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus. So, the government must be on a war fotting to vaccinate at least five crore people in next one year, for which keeping the fund available is a must.

Besiedes, in order to prioriotise livelihood the government also needs to increase budgetary allocation for social safety net, pandemic-hit businesses and implementation of development projects. So, there is no room for austerity measures; rather, we should focus on expansionary monetary policy so that people can have enough ecmployment opportunties and the economy recovers quickly.

We hope the government has also drawn up an expansonary budgetary outlay as it is being reported that this year’s national budget will cross Tk. 6.0 trillion for the first time. This is certainly a step in the right direction to save both life and livelihood.