Bangladesh government cuts budget by 5 per cent

Giving higher priority to the health, food, disaster management and export-oriented readymade garment sectors in the prevailing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the government on Monday cut the current fiscal budget by about 5 per cent.

Finance Division additional secretary Habibur Rahman said that they had already authorised the relevant ministries and divisions to implement the Tk 5,00,000-crore revised budget.

The original budget was worth Tk 5,23,190 crore.

The health, disaster, food and export-oriented readymade garment sectors have been given priority in the revised budget without changing the budget deficit size — 5 per cent of the GDP, he added.

The government has already announced a Tk 5,000-crore allocation from the budget to supplement the wages for the RMG workers as the factory owners demanded incentives amid the downturn in their export income.

The nitty-gritty of the allocation is expected to be released by the Bangladesh Bank today in line with the guidelines from the ministry of finance, said Finance Division officials.

Besides, the government has released Tk 250 crore for the health ministry so that it can implement emergency measures for the identification and treatment of coronavirus patients.

According to the officials, more fund has also been kept aside in the revised budget for the health sector other than for running food relief programme in rural areas and open market sales in urban centres.

Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies director general Khan Ahmed Sayeed Murshid said that there was no doubt that the health sector would get the top priority amid the pandemic.

But the government should also do something for the people living from hand to mouth and for those employed in the informal sector as the 10-day holiday announced by the government since March 26 has increased their misery, he said.

Some 85 per cent people are engaged in informal sector activities of the country, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics’ Labour Force Survey.

Finance Division officials said that the revised revenue collection target of the National Broad of Revenue was fixed at about Tk 3,00,000 crore in place of the original Tk 3,25,600 crore.

The NBR suffered a shortfall of Tk 45,000 crore in the first eight months of the current fiscal year, or until February, with Centre for Policy Dialogue, a local think-tank, apprehending a revenue shortfall of nearly Tk 1,00,000 crore at the end of fiscal year in June.

According to the Finance Division officials, the NBR revenue shortfall would be made up from the higher non-tax revenue income of more than Tk 48,000 crore, revised from the original Tk 37,710 crore, with the availability of more than Tk 10,000 crore–Tk 12,000 crore from the state-owned entrepreneurs as surplus fund.

A downward revision of the annual development programme — a key part of the national budget — has already been completed.

On March 19, the National Economic Council at a meeting cut the ADP size by Tk 9,800 crore to Tk 1,91,921 crore from the projected Tk 2,02,721 crore.

The entire cut was in the foreign aid as the contribution of the local resources has been retained at Tk 1,30,927 crore.

The current fiscal year will conclude on June 30. (Source: New Age)

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