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Budget 2020-21

‘Health, social safety, agriculture get priority’

Published : 31 May 2020 10:12 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 05:48 PM

Highest importance will have to be  given on health, social security, agriculture and employment in the next budget for the fiscal 2020-2021 to overcome economic losses amid Covid-19 crisis, economists say.

They said the budget should be a sustainable budget for the next fiscal as it has many challenges due to coronavirus crisis. 

There are two major challenges for the government in coming days, they said adding that, one is to revive the economy and another is to save the lives and secure the health of the citizens.

Experts also said this budget should shift the focus from channeling resources from the conventional sectors such as physical infrastructure and energy to social sectors like health, education, social protection.

Besides, the government should focus on agriculture sector and employment generation to revive the economy, they added. 

Eminent economist and former finance adviser to the caretaker government AB Mirza Azizul Islam said the health sector should be given the most importance in the next budget followed by the social safety net and agriculture sector.

The government should increase the allocation in these sectors and ensure proper and effective utilization of money.

Former governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr Atiur Rahman said, "Health expenditure must get the top priority in the upcoming budget, followed by investment in agriculture." 

He also said the health sector should get 20 percent share of the total budget for next three years (currently it has less than 5 percent). 

Rahman said, “This additional allocation will be required to prepare the health infrastructure to cope with the pandemic, as well as to continue other critical health services.”

He further said, “Share of the social safety net allocations in the total annual budget needs to be doubled, from 10 percent of the total budget to 20 percent, in order to safeguard the poor from socio-economic shocks caused by the pandemic.”

He urged the government to focus on agriculture sector more to ensure food security.

Without efficient implementation and managing of the budget effectively, all works will go in vain, he said adding that, the government must continue dialogues and cooperation with the private sector, the non-government organisations and the international development partners for reviving the economy.

CPD's Distinguished Fellow Professor Mustafizur Rahman said the health sector must be given first priority on next budget due regard to Covid-19.

He said the government allocations for health in the budget are equivalent to just over 1.0 percent of gross domestic product, or GDP.

He underlined the need for lifting health allocations by at least 2.0 percent of the GDP.

He said raising the health budget alone is not enough, but its optimal use must be ensured.

Mustafizur Rahman said it is true that Bangladesh has been failing to provide adequate medical facility for lack of funds.

He also said there is a need for incentives for the medical professionals, including private medics who are now treating coronovirus patients. 

However, finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal is scheduled to place the budget in national Parliament on 11 June, according to the finance ministry. 

The size of the new budget may be around Tk 5,60,000 crore and revenue collection target can be Tk 3,95,000 crore. 

The size of the budget may increase further at the last moment.