Describing the recently proposed national budget as ‘humanitarian budget’, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Monday said the people have been given priority in this one.
“This time, we’ve prepared the budget keeping eye on the people of the country. The people are getting priority in all our budgets this time. We’ll have all efforts to protect them from this virus (COVID-19),” he said in his concluding speech over the supplementary budget for 2019-20 fiscal year in Parliament.
The Finance Minister said the economic development usually gets priority in the budget, but this time the people has been given priority. “It’s a humanitarian, as well as an economic budget,” he said.
Kamal said the budget for 2020-21 fiscal was prepared putting emphasis on building rural economy as per the announcement of the Prime Minister.
He said: “The government collected revenue first and then spent the money in the previous fiscals, but this time the money will be spent first and then the revenue will be collected. How can we save the people if we don’t spend money?”
The Finance Minister urged all to come forward to execute the budget on the basis of consensus. “We’ll need all (people) to face this disaster. So, we’ll have to do this work taking all with us,” he said.
About the supplementary budget, he said the government re-fixed the revenue collection, expenditure and deficit following the economic shock caused by global COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve revised the GDP growth estimate at 5.2 percent decreasing from the target of 8.2 percent (in the outgoing fiscal year). Even if it (5.2 percent) is achieved, it will be the highest growth among the South Asian countries,” he said.
The Finance Minister said additional Tk 3,605 crore was allocated against the Health Service sector, Disasters Management Ministry, Security Services Division and Defense Ministry to face the coronavirus disaster.
Earlier, five MPs took part in the general discussion on the supplementary budget after sitting of Parliament began at 10:30am with Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair.
‘Improve services at govt hospitals’
Joining the discussion, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Muhammed Quader criticised some ministries particularly the Health Ministry for lack of its capacity to spend the allocated fund.
He said the Health Ministry could not place any demand for additional allocation rather it could spend less money than what was allocated in the actual budget.
“The allocation for health sector (Health Services Division and Medical Education and Family Welfare Division) was Tk 25,733 crore in the actual budget for 2019-20 fiscal year, but it could spend Tk 23,692 crore. So, the budgetary allocation against the ministry declined by Tk 2,061 crore in the supplementary budget,” he said.
Noting that the allocation against the health sector was increased to Tk 29,247 crore for the 2020-21 fiscal, the Jatiya Party MP said those who prepared the budget might not raise the allocation so highly thinking that the ministry could not spend the allocated money fully in the outgoing fiscal year.
GM Quader demanded formation of a high-level neutral probe committee to investigate mismanagement of hospitals.
BNP MP Md Harunur Rashid also criticised the government for not improving the services in government hospitals. “Today, our health management collapsed,” he said adding that rich patients now take services in the private hospitals or go abroad for treatment.
He said the life and livelihood of the people will have to be given the highest priority cutting the development expenditure now.
The BNP MP demanded facing the COVID-19 disaster on the basis of national consensus.
Also read: Govt sets 8.2 pc ambitious GDP growth target
Besides, Awami League MPs Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Tahzeeb Alam Siddique, and Waseqa Ayesha Khan took part in the discussion.
Later, the Parliament passed the supplementary budget of Tk 46,516.11 crore for the fiscal 2019-20 to meet the increased expenditures under different ministries and divisions.