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The Financial Express

Livelihoods, recovery to be in focus in next budget

| Updated: April 21, 2021 10:46:49


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The national budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 will focus on measures to face Covid-19 challenges, save lives and livelihoods of people and recover the economy.

Officials said the budget would be pandemic-centric as the second wave of coronavirus is relentless in its grip at home and abroad, showing no signs of deceleration sooner.

The budget for the next fiscal year will be placed in parliament on a Thursday on June 03 or June 10.

The budget for the current fiscal year, announced last June during the first wave of the pandemic, focused on 'economic transition and pathway to progress'.

According to the officials, finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal is preparing the next budget attaching utmost importance to livelihoods and recovery.

Ministry officials, while preparing the minister's budget speech, are also readying a header of the text to mainly focus on confronting the pandemic.

The deadly pathogen is slowing down the economic recovery and also putting lives and livelihoods of people at stake.

Officials said the next budget would come up with some more incentives for different sectors and strata of society and expansion of the coverage of the existing stimulus packages.

These measures will aim at the increased flow of money at people's hand to help save their lives.

A senior finance ministry official said the government succeeded in keeping the number of infection and death under control during the first wave of the pandemic.

It simply made the government confident that the pandemic would not be able to give a serious bite in future, he told the FE.

But the second wave came in its trail with severe strength and the number of casualties this time has surpassed last year's figures.

The extremes of the second wave and its possible impact have pushed the government to rethink about measures needed to keep the economy afloat, the official said.

Economists in the recent pre-budget parley suggested that the next budget focus on the present circumstances since the pandemic is showing an upward trend and lashing the economy.

They also proposed for an expansionary fiscal policy and raising the spending, especially the disbursement of more than Tk 1.24 trillion of all the 23 stimulus packages.

Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh executive director Dr Ahsan H Mansur recently told the FE that the budget needs to be context-specific to face the epidemic successfully.

"We're going through the pandemic. We should focus on its effects and recovery," he said.

"The economy will face stress as revenue collection will be sluggish. We have to spend more on supporting corona-affected people in their livelihood."

Mr Mansur laid emphasis on increased allocation for general safety-net programmes and continuation of cash support programme in a more pragmatic mechanism.

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