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Muhith rolls out budget for FY16 tomorrow

WT24 Desk

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith is placing tomorrow (Thursday) the national budget for 2015-16 financial year (FY16) at the Jatiya Sangsad at 3pm., agencies report.  This will be the country’s 44th budget and the 16th of the Awami League government while the 9th for Muhith.  Muhith, however, is the first finance minister who is placing the national budget for the seventh time in a row since 2009-10 fiscal year.
He also presented two more national budgets for the 1982-83 and 1983-84 financial years.  Last year, the finance minister announced that the budget would have the mechanism and the dynamism for luring growth fostering investment and reducing income disparity to bring more people out of poverty.  This year, he would draw the salient features of the budget with the major targets of raising GDP (gross domestic product) growth with maintaining price stability, enhancing the rate of investment, and improving the power and energy, and physical infrastructure further with special attention to human resources development.

When Muhith was crafting the national budget for FY16, skepticism about the prospect of the economy was high because of the unprecedented violent activities, unleashed in the country in the name of politics. Amidst the nearly three-month long deliberately created political turbulence, the finance minister showed his high optimism saying confidently and repeatedly that the political unrest would not hurt the economy as much as many apprehended.

Subsequently, economic data and estimate by the World Bank and some think-tanks including the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CDP) proved that the finance minister was right.
Invalidating all doubts and forecasts, the country’s economy achieved 6.51 percent growth in the out-going 2014-15 fiscal (FY15), and the finance minister justifiably came up with the conclusion that the country’s economy became capable of absorbing not only the external shocks, but also got the strength to triumph over the domestic drawbacks.

Muhith announced that he would take a different approach this year in the national budget and the fiscal policy to achieve the targeted growth in the economy.  The minister already hinted that the target for GDP growth would be set at 7.2 to 7.3 percent for FY16 when he would focus on human resource development for driving economy to a higher growth trajectory.

The finance minister, however, made it clear that the government would not shift from the target of addressing infrastructure, gas and power, but would take a different approach towards addressing further the development in education, health and other social sectors as achieving higher growth in future hinges on human source development.  He said power and transportation would be in the priority list for the next financial year too, but with human resource development getting special attention.

Muhith also said that the coming budget would pave way for implementing ongoing mega projects like the Padma Bridge, Metrorail and Moghbazar-Mouchak flyover.  The finance minister will also continue focusing on poverty reducing initiatives, with substantial allocations for employment generation and social safety-net.  As the poverty rate already fell below 20.0 percent, Muhith was expecting the FY16 budget and the fiscal policy would be a catalyst of making Bangladesh poverty-free in near future.

The minister is also optimistic about the rapid increase in domestic resource mobilisation, which was over 2.0 percent in the past five years, significantly higher than before.  He told journalists earlier that the strong growth in internal resource mobilisation would drive the size of the national budget to Taka 5 lakh crore in 2018.  The size of the FY16 budget would be around three lakh crore, significantly higher than the 2 lakh 50 thousand and 560 crore of FY15.

The National Economic Council (NEC) also approved an amount of Taka 97,000 crore for the Annual Development Programme (ADP) for FY16.  The allocation is 29.33 per cent higher than the revised ADP of the current fiscal year, and 20.77 per cent higher than the original ADP of the current fiscal.  The ADP prioritised the development of the country’s communication systems, particularly the Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB) project.

Now, as the finance minister is set for announcing the national budget, people’s expectation and speculation prompted that the next fiscal policy and outlay should draw their future dreams with cautious evaluation of past successes and failures.  Like previous year, the budget this year too will be presented on PowerPoint and will be made available on the website of the finance department at www.mof.gov.bd. The budget documents will also be available at www.bangladesh.gov.bd, www.nbr-bd.org, www.plancomm.gov.bd, www.imed.gov.bd, www.bdpressinform.org and www.pmo.gov.bd and at the BSS website www.bssnews.net.

Any person or organization in home and abroad can send their feedback, opinion or recommendation by filling up a form after downloading it from the website.  The finance minister will address a post budget press conference at the Osmani Memorial Auditorium at 4pm on Friday, June 5.

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