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World Bank prediction on GDP trashed

Published : 09 Jun 2021 10:01 PM | Updated : 09 Jun 2021 10:03 PM

Brushing aside the World Bank’s forecast on Bangladesh’s GDP growth,  Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has said that the country's GDP growth rate will be more than 6.1 percent, the highest in South Asia.

THe Finance Minister came up with the statement while briefing reporters after a meeting of the cabinet committee on public purchase on Wednesday.

On the day, the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP) approved 11 proposals involving Tk 2,579.30 crore.

The meeting was held virtually with the Finance Minister in the chair.

Regarding the World Bank's report that the country’s GDP growth will be 5.1 percent, the finance minister said, “First we have to see whether what the World Bank says has been done so far. Even if there are some plus-minuses, we still can't find a match there. We have a projection for the fiscal year 2021-22 and we will be able to implement it. We have said that the growth rate for the current financial year is 6.1.”

The way the macroeconomic trend has turned positive in May-June towards the end of the financial year, we believe we can achieve above 6.1 percent of GDP growth, he said adding “That achievement will be above all in South Asia. It's only a matter of days before you see if it's okay.”

Asked whether the vaccine would be available from China in time, he said this issue was not discussed in the meeting. 

I cannot comment for good reason, he said, adding, if you want to know about this, you can get information from the concerned ministry (health). 

Mustafa Kamal said we rejected accepting data on the new poor that came out earlier through surveys done by private research organisations to measure the effect of Covid-induced income loss.

Over the last one year, Brac Institute for Governance and Development and Power and Participation Research Centre, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) found in their surveys that poverty rates rose to 35 per cent to 43 per cent as many lost income opportunities in the wake of countrywide shutdown and resultant economic slowdown.  

The government agencies namely Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) did not do any survey during the pandemic and it maintains the poverty rate at 20.5 percent of population.

Replying to a question after the meeting, Kamal said, “I do not accept this data on new poor. It is important to know the source of the data list, which says the country has 2 crore or 1 crore or 10 new poor.”

He said the government cannot accept any data if they are not released by institutions like Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) or Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).

The Finance Minister further said, “Optical fiber cable connections need to be established in the hilly areas of Bandarban, Khagrachari and Rangamati. We need to increase connectivity. We have to lay the cable to do that. We have given permission to do that, they can do it. The Department of Information Communication and Technology will do the job.”

However, the cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved a proposal on establishing a permanent network in remote areas, under the project “Broadband Connectivity of Telecommunication in Disadvantaged Areas (Connected Bangladesh)”.

After the meeting, Additional Secretary of the Cabinet Division Md Shamsul Arefin said initiatives have been taken to set up optical fiber networks in a total of 59 unions in three hilly districts – Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachari.

Considering the security risks and environmental constraints as the hilly unions are very remote, he said, the committee approved the proposal to procure an optical fiber network under direct purchase method (DPM) through Bangladesh Army.

However, among the 11 approval purchase proposals included 6 from the Department of Road Transport and Highways, 2 from the Department of Local Government, 1 from the Department of Public Safety, 1 from the Ministry of Water Resources and 1 from the Ministry of Labor and Employment.