Speakers at a virtual seminar on Thursday stressed the need for giving priority to the health sector in the budget for fiscal year 2020-21 and utilising allocation properly to revive the coronavirus-ravaged economy.
They said Covid-19-affected people are looking forward to the upcoming budget and the government should use resources strategically.
The observations came at the webinar on National Budget 2020-2021 organised by Economic Development Research Organisation (EDRO).
Tanjil Hossain, executive director of EDRO, moderated the webinar and prescribed some key areas which, he said, should be intervened in the budget.
Senior research fellow of Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Towfiqul Islam Khan, senior lecturer at Deakin University of Australia Dr Mokhtarul Wadud and banker Md Mazadul Hoque, among others, spoke at the programme.
Speaking as a guest of honour, Mr Khan said health issue in this budget should be given priority and proper utilisation of allotted fund in the health sector is a must.
Skilled manpower is required to handle modern equipment in the healthcare industry, he said, adding that around 50 million poor and ultra-poor people have to be brought under food assistance immediately.
"If possible, 19 million more people who live from hand to mouth might be targeted for food assistance."
Mr Khan also emphasized the importance of expanding social safety net programmes in the budget for survival of the poor people.
Dr Mokhtarul Wadud said the budget should be designed giving priority to labour-intensive and export-oriented industries in order to keep the economic wheel moving.
"Allocation in the budget for infrastructure development should be narrowed because it helps create employment generation."
He added: "To cover deficit budget, we may seek loans from International Monetary Fund (IMF)."
Banker Mazadul Hoque said the budget should focus on the agriculture sector to ensure food security.
The volume of subsidy for the farm sector in the budget must be enhanced and the amount of unused subsidized fund might be applied for crop insurance purposes that will help save our marginal farmers from climate and flood-related huge losses, he added.