Bangladesh's Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has said that the national budget for the fiscal year (FY) 2023-24 was not based on the conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"Like in different countries, the IMF has come to Bangladesh and made some recommendations to help the economy. We took their prescriptions as per our needs, but did not follow them all in preparing the budget," he said while addressing a post-budget press conference at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in the city on Friday (June 2, 2023).
He said the IMF is not helping the countries only by providing money, they also monitor the economy. This is good for the economy.
Responding to a repeated number of questions on inflation and commodity price hike, the finance minister said the government is concerned about the rising trend in inflation.
"We're apprehensive about inflation, but it is not beyond our control. We cannot stop feeding the people," he said.
He said the government is approaching in a flexible way to contain inflation. Through social safety-net programmes, the government has been providing food to poor people.
"We're trying to identify the reasons for inflation and address those. If we need to give any concession, we will do that," he said.
Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque, LGRD Minister Tajul Islam, Education Minister Dipu Moni, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Finance Secretary Fatima Yasmin, Bangladesh Bank Governor Abdur Rouf Talukder, and National Board of Revenue (NBR) Chairman Abu Hena Rahmatul Munim were among others also addressed on the occasion.
The Finance Minister claimed that the new budget was mainly focused on benefiting the poor people.
"We have expanded our tax net so that more taxes could be collected. Everybody has to pay tax," he said, adding that like other budgets in the past this was also prepared targeting both the next election and the people.
"We cannot separate the people or the election from our goal of the budget," he said.
Responding to another question, he said that all the projections made in the previous budgets were implemented.
Kamal said Bangladesh has been well placed in remittance earnings among the countries in the region.
After a downward trend, remittance earning is again increasing and we can meet five months of our import bill through our reserve.
He said after some measures taken by the government, the inflow of remittance will gradually go up.
At the press conference, with the request of the Finance Minister, Bangladesh Governor Abdur Rouf Talukder responded to a good number of questions, specially, on inflation, remittance and banking sector.
He said that Bangladesh Bank will announce its monetary policy on June 19 where it will lay out the plan on containing inflation, and increasing remittance and reserve.
He claimed that though the government's loan from the banking system is increasing, it will not push up inflation as the central bank is withdrawing more money from the market through selling dollars.