Vaccination against Covid-19 is more important than the economic growth in the next fiscal year to overcome the setback amid the pandemic, eminent economist Prof Dr Atiur Rahman said on Saturday.
Dr Atiur, also former governor of Bangladesh Bank, gave the suggestion in his post-budget reaction while addressing a virtual discussion meeting in the capital.
He said the countrymen will get relief if they are vaccinated. Vaccination will boost public confidence.
Unnayan Shamannay, a development agency of the country, organised the meeting to review the opportunities and challenges of the proposed national budget for 2021-22 fiscal year.
During the budget speech, Finance Minister Mustafa Kamal mentioned that the government will vaccinate 2.5 million people every month and will bring 80 per cent people of the country under the mass immunisation in phases.
“We should worry less about the economic growth rate, deficit finance etc. and prioritise how to vaccinate 60 to 70 percent of the population as soon as possible. This will ensure success of our campaign for economic and social recovery,” Dr Atiur said.
Fellows emeritus economist Dr Enamul Haque and sociologist Khondoker Shakhawat Ali connected as panelist at the meeting conducted by Unnayan Shamannay research director Abdullah Nadvi.
Dr Atiur identified the industry and business-friendly tax proposals to be the strongest part of the proposed budget.
He said that considering the pandemic-induced economic slowdown, the revenue collection target for National Board of Revenue (NBR) has been revised downwards for the ongoing fiscal year, and for the coming fiscal year it remains equal to the proposed target for the ongoing fiscal year.
He opined that attaining the Tk 3.3 trillion targets will be very challenging for the NBR and they must show utmost efficiency to be successful.
Economist Enamul Haque pointed out that conventionally the social safety nets are targeting those living below the poverty line.
“Considering the current situation safety nets are required for those living just above the said line. Universal Pension Scheme could be a good way to do so,” he said.
Sociologist Khandaker Shakhawat Ali advised that the budget proposal, along with setting the target of vaccinating 70 to 80 percent of the population, should also present a clear timeframe to attain that target.
According to Shawkat Ali, the government should aim to attain this target within the coming fiscal year. The government should initially prioritise importing vaccines and then move to producing those.
Finance Minister Mustafa Kamal placed a Tk 6.03 trillion budget in parliament on Thursday with a growth projection of 7.2 percent.