With a global economic crisis wrought by a mix of the coronavirus pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war in the backdrop rocking the economy, parliament has passed the Tk 6.78 trillion spending plan with the aim of bringing Bangladesh back on the path to development.
The MPs passed the budget for 2022-23 fiscal year in voice vote in a session chaired by Speaker Shirin Shamin Chaudhury on Thursday, the last day of the outgoing financial year.
They discussed the budget throughout the session after Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal proposed the layout on Jun 9. The budget session was longer this time after it was shortened in the last two years due to the pandemic crisis.
Last year, Kamal grappled with the task of striking a balance between protecting public health and livelihoods amid a raging pandemic.
This time he faces the challenges of keeping prices of daily necessities down amid volatility on the international market as people suffer heavily from skyrocketing living costs.
During the discussions, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina advised citizens to focus on saving instead of spending on luxurious products and wasting Bangladesh’s resources with the global economy facing a crisis amid the Russia-Ukraine war after the coronavirus pandemic.
Bangladesh will, however, continue making progress thanks to the steps taken by her government, Hasina said, calling for help from all.
The Tk 6.78 trillion spending plan is equivalent to 15.23 percent of the national GDP and 14.24 percent higher than the revised outlay for FY22.
It has set a 7.5 percent GDP growth target for the new fiscal year, banking on strong “domestic and external demand” to drive economic growth in the medium term.
Spurred by a record GDP growth of 8.15 percent in FY19, the finance minister had again set a target of 8.2 percent GDP growth for fiscal 2019-20 but the number had to be revised down to 6.1 percent as the economy went through a turbulent phase. The country only achieved 3.45 percent growth that year.
The growth rate increased to 6.94 percent in the fiscal year 2020-2021 and after riding out another wave of the pandemic, the GDP target was increased to 7.2 percent for the outgoing year.
The government has targeted an average inflation rate of 5.6 percent in the coming fiscal year. It is refraining from adjusting domestic prices of chemical fertiliser, gas and power in order to stave off inflation.
After a deviation of two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, the government has geared up to get back on track with development by designing the budget with a massive deficit, planning to raise more than Tk 1 trillion from banks.
Through the passage of a revised Finance Bill on Wednesday, Kamal got his plan to offer amnesty to money launderers approved with some modifications.
Now Bangladeshis will be able to bring back undeclared funds from abroad by paying taxes without facing any questions.
The minister dropped the proposed options to legalise properties, both movable and immovable, located abroad amid intense criticism from the opposition of his plan to cut the deficit in this way.
As many as 13 MPs, including those from the main opposition the Jatiya Party and the BNP, placed 664 motions to modify the proposed budget. All these motions have been rejected after discussions.