To come to a correct appraisal of the proposed budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, we need to look at the ground reality of the country. During the last decade plus period Bangladesh, under the prudent leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, registered one victory after another in the socio-economic fronts. As a result of these, the country’s GDP grew steadily, helping the country to qualify for the graduation to a developing country level.
At this critical juncture of the country’s forward march, the deadly coronavirus pandemic spelt devastating impacts on the life and livelihood of the people and made it difficult for the country to maintain the previous growth rate. The GDP growth in FY21 dipped to 5.4 per cent against the set target of 8.2.
Against this backdrop, Bangladesh is now faced with the two-fold challenges of overcoming the damaging impact of the pandemic on people’s life and livelihood and once again setting the economy on its growth path. Herein lies the logic why the government proposed a budget bigger than any other before despite the slump in domestic resources. Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal yesterday proposed for the next fiscal a Tk 6.04 trillion strong financial programme with an ADP outlay of Tk 2253 billion and a growth target of 7.2 per cent. We think, without an expansionary budgetary policy Bangladesh cannot achieve the targets that it must to keep going.
However, despite the urgency of a bigger budget, there are issues that can hardly be overlooked. The Finance Minister placed the budget with a huge deficit equivalent to 6.2 per cent of the GDP though, in previous years, it remained within five per cent. The government will therefore be more dependent on support from development partners and bank borrowing, with certain undesirable offshoots. The robust revenue target is another area of concern as the country’s revenue collection authorities have hardly the record of fulfilling the target. The poor project implementation rate due allegedly to lack of inter-ministerial coordination and undue delay in releasing funds is yet another issue to be worried about.
Adoption of budgets and implementation of budgets are two integral parts of a single entity. After the financial plan for the next fiscal year has been adopted, the authorities concerned now need to promote factors that facilitate development and unswervingly remove the ones that stand in its way. Our future hinges much upon the quality utilisation of the budgetary allocations.