With ebbing Covid-19 pandemic under control the Parliament on Thursday got back its old atmosphere when the finance minister presented his budget proposals for FY2022-23.
Though the Covid health protocols were still in force the members looked relaxed as they listened and watched the audio-visual presentation of the national budget.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal presented the budget for the fiscal year 2022-23 in Parliament in the afternoon. This is the 51st budget of Bangladesh and the fourth budget of him.
Kamal placed a proposed budget of Tk 678,064 crore for the new financial year with the challenge of reversing the lost pace of development due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposed expenditure for the new fiscal year is 14.24 per cent higher than the revised budget of the outgoing fiscal year (Tk 5,93,500 crore). That amount of money is equal to 15.23 per cent of the total GDP of Bangladesh.
The size of the budget given by Kamal in the outgoing fiscal year was 12 per cent more than the revised budget in the fiscal year 2020-21 and was equal to 16.4 per cent of GDP.
Earlier, after approval of the budget at a special Cabinet meeting at the parliament building, President Abdul Hamid signed it for authentication.
Also read:Budget FY23: Prices to go up and down
He arrived at the Parliament House from Bangabhaban.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Finance Minister Mustafa Kamal walked together from the Prime Minister's Office at the Parliament building to the House. The finance minister was carrying a maroon coloured briefcase.
The Russia-Ukraine war has destabilized world markets in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic.
The rising US dollar is putting pressure on the economy as food and fuel prices continue to rise.
The World Bank warns that many countries could fall into recession as inflation rises.
The finance minister has prepared this year's budget plan to take the country back to the pre-pandemic development trend despite various pressures.
Usually the day of presentation of the budget wears a festive mood throughout the parliament building.
But the picture of the last two years was different.
The entrance to the parliament building area was restricted.
And in the main building a small number of officers and employees performed their duties.
Even in the session, the mood of that festival was not seen for two years. There were strict warnings everywhere. Public gatherings were controlled to avoid infection.
It has been a different picture this time. Nearly all the seats in the House were occupied by lawmakers unlike last year’s turnout of about 160 members in Parliament.
However, this time the number of MPs in the session room was much higher than the last two times.
For the last two years, the members of the Legislative Assembly were listed and placed in the Parliament.
This time all the MPs who got negative certificates in the Coronavirus test were in the House. There were 260 legislators in the parliament chamber.
The MPs, however, were all wearing masks. Sanitizers were kept at all the entrances including the MP lobby starting from the entrance to the parliament building.
Everyone entering the Parliament building has to take a temperature test for fever.
President Hamid sat in the gallery in his designated place and watched the budget presentation. At the beginning of the session, the speaker informed the Parliament about the presence of the president.
The 'Covid Negative' certificate is mandatory for entry into the budget session which started on June 5.
During the last two years of the budget session, journalists were not allowed to enter the session hall. Last year, permission was granted to enter the parliament building only. This time there is no such restriction.
The finance minister took 48 minutes to deliver his budget speech in 2020. Last year, the budget was presented for more than an hour, but he read it for 15 minutes only. The rest of the time his budget proposal was presented in PowerPoint and audio-visual presentations.
This time too he presented the budget in audio-visual presentation with the welcome speech with the permission of the speaker.
At the beginning, the finance minister spoke for about five minutes.
At the end he stood and talked for about two minutes. In all, he spoke for only seven minutes in a budget presentation of 2 hours and 10 minutes.
The finance minister stood up and prepared to present the budget. Later the speaker said he can sit and read if he wants. Mustafa Kamal started by reciting verses from the Qur'an.
After the presentation of the budget, the finance minister raised the Finance Bill-2022 in the Parliament. The speaker then adjourned the House till 12 noon on June 12.
As in the last two years, no guests were invited to witness the budget presentation.
Earlier, diplomats and important people of the state would be present during the presentation of the budget.
Kamal arrived at the parliament building with a maroon briefcase at 11:30 am to complete all the formalities before presenting the budget.
According to the decision of the Working Advisory Committee of the Parliament, after the presentation of the budget, there will be a general discussion on the supplementary budget for the financial year 2021-22.
The supplementary budget will be passed on June 13. After that, the members of parliament will discuss the budget of the new financial year.
The finance bill for the new fiscal year will be passed on June 29. The budget will be passed on June 30 and it will be effective on the first day of July.
Although the budget session has been short for the last two years, this time Parliament will sit on all days except Friday and Saturday. Last year, the Parliament session lasted 12 working days. The previous year saw the shortest session in history with nine working days.
Every year, budget documents are distributed to the media personnel from the public relations branch on the seventh floor of the parliament building.
Last year, budget documents were distributed in the lower tunnel in the South Plaza of Parliament. This year, like in 2020, the documents were given from the media center outside the parliament building.
The finance minister will answer various questions at a customary post-budget press conference at Osmani Auditorium at 3 pm on Friday.