No ambitious budget: Muhith

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Dhaka: Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith today (Sunday) said that there would be no ambitious target in the next national budget for FY19 while the budget size is likely to be in between Taka 4,60,000 crore and Taka 4,75,000 crore.

“We’ll won’t keep any ambitious target in the next national budget for FY19 as it will be an election year……..the tentative figures for the budget is around Taka 4,60,000 crore to Taka 4,75,000 crore,” he told a pre-budget meeting with the members of four parliamentary standing committees.

Members of parliamentary standing committee on Finance, Planning, Public Accounts and Public Undertakings put forward their various suggestions before the finance minister in the meeting.

State Minister for Finance and Planning MA Mannan and secretaries concerned were also present at the meeting held at the NEC conference room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area, reports BSS.

The Finance Minister said human development would continue to enjoy the highest priority in the next budget like the previous years’ followed by education, health, and water supply.

“But, in terms of allocation, transport and energy would get the highest allocation,” he added.

Based on the performance of the revised budget for current fiscal year, the minister said the revenue generation scenario is good compared to the previous years and hopefully it will continue its momentum.

Muhith said although there is usual trend of shortfall in the implementation of development budget, but the implementation of the Annual Development Programme (ADP) in the first eight months of the current fiscal year is quite encouraging as it touched 35 percent.

Responding to queries of the committee members, he said the number of beneficiaries and amount under different social safety net programmes would increase in the next year.

He also noted that the allowances given under various social safety net programmes is the lowest in Bangladesh among the countries of the world.

About various problems raised by the lawmakers in health sector, Muhith said the scarcity of doctors in hospitals has improved a lot with the appointment of physicians, but still there is a necessity in machineries and equipments at the hospitals.

He also advocated for assisting further the countrywide community clinics saying that this helped a lot in reducing the maternal mortality rate.

When asked about a media report that the government is planning to ban Taka 1,000 note, Muhith ruled out such possibility adding, “This is just bogus. We don’t have such plan and this is really a rubbish,”

The lawmakers in the meeting suggested for improving the quality of education, raising the budget in education, health, energy and agriculture sectors, reducing interest rates, SPREAD and service charges at banks, taking measures to reduce price of rice, raising agriculture subsidies, framing a policy to discourage powder milk import and thus making the country self-sufficient in milk production.

They also suggested for raising fund allocation for social welfare, putting more emphasis on technical education, keeping the professionals away from political affiliations, filling the vacant teachers’ posts in primary schools, measures for boosting export earnings, strictly maintaining the maintenance work of roads.

Lawmakers Dr M Abdur Razzaque, Major (read) Rafiqul Islam, AFM Ruhul Haque, Shamsul Haque Tuku, Begum Akhter Zahan, Adv Navana Akhter, Abdur Rouf, Farhad Hossain, Vice Principal Abdus Shaheed and Shamsul Haque Chowdhury attended the meeting.

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