Eminent economist Dr Ahsan H. Mansur has said that political instability or uncertainty always affects the economy adversely. Dr Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute (PRI), a Dhaka-based think tank, was talking to UNB on the ongoing political situation centred on the 12th national election and the opposition's hartal-blockade programs. “Bangladesh's macroeconomy is facing challenges not seen in the last 25/30 years, so tackling the grave situation politically is very important,” he said. The political unrest alongside the macroeconomic instability is a double blow for the domestic economy, so the current domestic situation is different from any other election period in the history of Bangladesh, Dr Mansur pointed out. Read: Blockades are bad for economy, scare foreign investors: FBCCI President He said, “If the national election is not credible to the international and domestic people, the concern will grow over what steps and reaction come from western countries, which is the export destination of most Bangladeshi products.” Meanwhile, the foreign countries have expressed concern over a decent working environment for labour, security of labour organisations' leaders, and desired wages in the export-oriented garment industries, he said. Bangladesh's human rights record was reviewed for the fourth time under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), an important UN human rights mechanism. Bangladesh's human rights record is under the scrutiny of the UN, EU, and USA, in this case, the steps for a political resolution and securing labour rights are very crucial, he opined. Regarding releasing the second instalment of the IMF’s USD $4.70 billion loan, Dr. Mansur, who is also a former senior economist of the IMF, said that there is no reason to delay the second instalment of the loan as Bangladesh met most of the conditions set by the global lender. Read: Economy bears brunt of ongoing blockades and hartals ahead of polls: Dr Atiur Rahman He said double-digit inflation has been prevailing in Bangladesh for a long time, while the South Asian countries including Sri Lank had succeeded in controlling inflation. In this area, Bangladesh has to do more to reduce the inflation rate to 4-5 percent. He focused on a market-based foreign exchange rate to make the exchange rate sustainable instead of being controlled by the Bangladesh Bank or Bangladesh Foreign Exchange Dealers Association (BAFEDA). Dr. Masur suggested policy reform and effective measures to stop money laundering or capital flight for a sustainable domestic foreign exchange market, in that the central banks have to apply their regulatory authority without bias or influence. “Despite a huge workforce and advantage of geographical location, Bangladesh cannot attract big volume foreign direct investment (FDI) due to lack of policy reforms and weak regulatory authority. Political unrest will work as another barrier for FDI,” he pointed out. Read: An innovation leap: Nagad Digital Bank aims to extend reach to the unbanked and underbanked Regarding political resolution, he said that there is no alternative to dialogue amongst major political parties, and tolerance of opposition for those who are in strong positions or in power is very important. Dr Mansur said all parties' participation in the upcoming election is the best option for Bangladesh in consideration of the overall current situation, while dialogue and level playing field for political parties are important issues. He thinks that the situation is not normal, as what is happening in Bangladesh is being keenly watched around the world, so the authorities must proceed with reason.
Despite demand being nearly half of electricity generation capacity, the government of Bangladesh continues to extend the tenure of costly rental power plants. The latest decision for extension of contract for a gas-based rental power plant was made in the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase on November 8. As per the decision, a 55 MW gas-based rental power plant of Precision Energy Ltd. will get an extension of 5 years to their existing contract with the state-owned Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB). Under the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), the BPDB will buy electricity from the plant at a tariff rate of US Cent 5.7 (equivalent to about Tk 6) per kilowatt hour while it has been buying electricity from base-load plants at around half the price. Read: Despite surplus electricity, contracts of 10 rental power plants extended in four months For instance, the government has been purchasing electricity from Summit-GE's Bibiyana 450 MW gas-fired power project at US 3.32 cents per kilowatt-hour, with a contract for a period of 22 years. The government approved a PPA in October 2021 under which Consortium of (1) Edra Power Holdings Sdn Bhd, Malaysia and (2) Winnievision Power Ltd, Bangladesh, will set up the 660 MW base-load combined cycle plant and the BPDB will purchase electricity from the plant over a contract period of 22 years at a levelised power tariff of US 3.679 Cents (equivalent to Tk 2.94) per kilowatt hour to be run by local gas. The move for continuing the extension of rental and quick rental power plants' contracts raised the eyebrows of the energy experts. Many experts and power industry insiders believe that such a move to continue entertaining the costly rental power plants will increase the burden on the government for more subsidies, at a time when the sector has already been facing huge capacity payments' obligation with surplus capacity of electricity generation reaching about 50 percent. Read: Power flow set up from Payra plant to Rampal sub-station Last year, the government extended the contracts of at least 10 rental power plants with a new provision of “No Electricity, No Payment” but kept a fund allocation of Tk 6,564.08 crore to pay the owners of the rental power plants. This time also Tk 1205.40 crore was kept as allocation while approving the latest extension proposal of Precision Energy's 55 MW Ashuganj gas-fired rental power plant which will be paid in in next 5 years. According to the Power Division’s official statistics, as of September 13, 2023, the country's power generation capacity was 27,834 MW including off-grid renewable and captive power, while the highest generated in a day was 15,648 MW. The BPDB official data shows the country generated 14,021 MW on September 26, while covering the excess demand by resorting to load shedding of 113 MW. Read: 5 rental power plants with 457 MW get 2-year extension The demand was decreasing with the coming winter and the country's power demand was recorded to be 10,954 MW on November 8 while on-grid installed capacity was showing 25,339 MW meaning that the surplus capacity was more than double at 14,385 MW. State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, however, defended the extension of the rental power plants’ contracts saying that the deals were extended for “emergency necessity” to tackle the current situation when last year 10 rental power plants' contracts were extended. “As there is a gas shortage, we have to run liquid-fuel based rental and quick rental power plants on full capacity to meet the demands," he had told UNB. He also said these plants don’t oblige the government to make 'capacity payment' - i.e. payment for unused electricity, that was the case with some earlier contracts. “As a result, the cost of electricity from these extended rental power plants came down by 30-40 percent from the original cost," Nasrul Hamid said. The government documents show that of the approved 5 plants in March last year, three belong to Summit Group, one belongs to Dutch-Bangla Group and one to Orion Group. 'Admit the mistake first' About the country's growing surplus electricity and extension of rental power plants, vice president of Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Prof M Shamsul Alam said: “There will be a big indiscipline in the power sector as pressure for private sector’s capacity payment will continue to go up while import of primary fuel will be increasing. Finally, it will lead to energy insecurity." Read: Deal period with rental, quick rental power plant owners can’t be extended: BPDB Chairman In such a situation, he said, the only way-out is that the government has to admit first it has done a mistake by giving permission to the private sector for excessive power generation without consideration of the demand and then change the current policy and strategy. Otherwise, the situation will be more difficult to manage as pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is coming to raise electricity tariff again. If so, it will further push up inflation, he added.
The government of Bangladesh is hoping to return the economy to its pre-COVID growth momentum by the end of the current fiscal (2023-24), although that presents a significant challenge in the face of a clutch of economic headwinds. The government’s vision for economic recovery is outlined in the "Medium Term Macroeconomic Policy Statement 2023-24 to 2025-26," prepared by the Macroeconomy Wing of the Finance Division, under the Finance Ministry. It maintains that with the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the economy was knocked off its fast-paced growth trajectory for large parts of the last three years. The first confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Bangladesh were reported in March 2020, less than three months after the outbreak in Wuhan. Recently published quarterly GDP data (in keeping with a condition set by the IMF) bears this out. It reveals that the economy contracted by a massive 7.86 percent in the last quarter of the 2019-20 fiscal (April to June 2020), as the virus spread throughout the globe. Read more: Financing, technology and innovation needed for just transition to greener economy: Shahriar Alam According to the quarterly data released retrospectively by the Bureau of Statistics (BBS) last month, GDP had grown by between 6.5 to 8 percent in the first three quarters of 2019-20. That reflects the extent to which the wind was knocked out of the economy by the negative growth (contraction) in the fourth quarter. The slump induced by Covid would keep economic performance depressed through the first two quarters of the next fiscal (2020-21). It wasn’t until the 3Q (January to March, 2021) that the first signs of a recovery would become visible. As the 2021-22 fiscal kicked in, Bangladesh looked ready to put Covid-19 behind it, having implemented a successful vaccination programme and lifted lockdown restrictions. The economy rallied robustly, and GDP growth touched 10 percent in the third quarter (January to March 2022). Yet even as the recovery was underway, the seeds for it to stumble were sown halfway across the globe, with Russia going to war in Ukraine in February 2022. The resulting volatility in international energy markets and supply chain disruptions would knock the momentum out again, of the country’s post-Covid recovery. Read more: World Bank forecasts Sri Lankan economy to grow by 1.7% in 2024 Although there was nothing like the contraction precipitated by Covid-19, the economy did experience a severe slowdown in the last quarter of FY22, slipping to just 2.6 percent from the previous quarter’s high of 10 percent. “Bangladesh also braced for impacts on its economy. However, actual data shows that Bangladesh did impressively even during the height of the Covid-19 outbreak and is expected to return to pre-Covid growth trajectory by the end of FY 2023-24,” the statement surmises. If everything goes according to plan and ‘assumptions hold’, it says that 8 percent GDP growth rate can be attained again in 2025-26. “Therefore, the deviation of the actual from the planned growth envisaged in the 8th FYP (Five Year Plan) remained small,” it said. Read more: Bangladesh economy hit hard by Ukraine war The Macroeconomic Policy Statement mentions capital accumulation is key for development and hence the government aims to foster private investment along with public investment towards fulfilment of its goals.. Total investment in FY 2021-22 stood at 32 percent of GDP in which the contribution of the private and the public sectors were 24.5 and 7.5 percent, respectively. To achieve the long and medium-term growth targets, the level of investment will need to be increased further. The statement points out that there is room to increase the implementation rate of public investment. If the pace of implementation of development projects can be increased, the required level of investment can be attained. “Recognising this, the government has taken steps to bring about some structural changes in both project design and implementation levels,” it says in the statement. Read more: BGMEA-Circle Economy ink MoU to accelerate garment, textile sector’s transition towards circular economy The Finance Division document said that the Russia-Ukraine war has put global energy supplies at risk. Russia is a major global supplier of energy and hence when the war broke out, commodity prices spiked fast. Bangladesh started to suffer from this like almost all other countries. By December 2022, point-to-point inflation rose to 8.7 percent and then further rose to 9.3 percent by March 2023. However, global commodity prices are already falling, and central banks have raised policy rates and because of this it is expected that inflation will come down in the coming months. The IMF has projected that the measures taken by the governments will help reduce inflation in the medium-term. The Finance Division has projected that average inflation will fall significantly to 6.0 percent in 2023-24, although there has been no indication of it through the first quarter (July to September). Read more: Bangladesh Budget 2023-24 passed in parliament In order to tame inflation and protect the incomes of the poor, the government has emphasised increasing the domestic production of essential items, while gradually tightening monetary policy. The document says that food inflation hurts the poor the most. Keeping this in mind, the government through various measures, including subsidies and incentives, encouraged the growth of agricultural output. To support the agriculture sector, disbursement of credit to the sector has been increased. By the end of February 2023, the disbursement of agricultural credit and non-farm rural credit amounted to Tk. 210.66 billion in the first 8 months of the last fiscal, which was almost 14 percent higher, year on year. Read more: Why inflation persists at a higher level in Bangladesh With the help of supportive policies of the government, the general index of industrial production (medium and large-scale manufacturing) has been on the rise, reflecting expanded industrial production. Dr Masrur Reaz, a prominent economist and public policy analyst, believes it would be very challenging to regain the pre-Covid momentum within the current fiscal, since a number of macroeconomic indicators have become unstable. Talking to UNB, he suggested the government focus on stabilising the macroeconomic situation first, which would make the economy more sustainable in the long run. Dr Reaz pointed out that high inflation, severe foreign exchange/dollar crisis preventing, among other things, opening of LCs, and the fluctuating value of domestic currency taka, should be resolved first. Read more: Businesses should get opportunities to turn around before wholesale declaration of loan defaulters: FBCCI President “To bring the economy back to its pre-Covid growth rate, these issues should be resolved first, which itself would be very challenging and difficult in a short time,” he opined. Explaining further, Dr Reaz said: “The time is to stabilise the economy rather than focus on growth. In the long run, the economy will grow through reducing the high rate of non-performing loans, keeping inflation within reasonable limits and achieving exchange rate stability.”
Businesses should get opportunities to turn around before wholesale declaration of loan defaulters: FBCCI President
Mahbubul Alam, the new president of the country’s apex trade body, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), has already written to Bangladesh Bank asking for opportunities for businesses struggling to pay instalments against loans to turn around their fortunes before declaring them as loan defaulters. He also believes heightened inflation is a global issue, rather than unique to Bangladesh, as prices of daily essentials and energy prices have witnessed spikes across the world, including the USA and Europe. Bangladesh is trying to curb inflation, but the global supply chain disruption creates crises on the supply side, which is the cause of the price hike in some cases, he pointed out. Talking to UNB, Mahbubul Alam gave his opinions on different issues including inflation, the dollar crisis, export diversification, and the challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Read: Mahbubul Alam takes charge as FBCCI president Alam was elected as the new president of the FBCCI as a leader of the Sammilito Oikko Parishad, for the 2023-25 tenure. The election was held on July 31 and he took charge as president on August 14. He also serves as President of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCCI). Beyond his business acumen, Mahbubul Alam has received recognition in the form of CIP (Trade) and CIP (Industry) Awards from the Ministry of Commerce, Bangladesh. He is also a committed philanthropist, contributing to various social causes. Internationally, he is the recipient of a "Certificate of Merit" from the World Customs Organization. Alam said in the present economic reality, suppose an entrepreneur has 12 factories; among them one or two will have fallen into problems, but the other 10 would be running well. In this situation, if the business group was declared as defaulter, the entrepreneur would not run the other factories, and a large number of employees would lose their jobs. Read: Large defaulted loans have distressed domestic economy: Experts He acknowledged that in the last two years, a huge volume of loans went into default as many businessmen are not paying their instalments. The FBCCI president said, the federation (FBCCI) has already written a letter to the Bangladesh Bank (BB) to not declare any company as defaulter without understanding the reality. He suggested running the factories as an option to get a return. He opposed wholesale declaration of loan defaulters rather than giving opportunities to improve. Alam agreed that the businessmen have to return the loan money, otherwise the banks will be in trouble. Regarding the dollar crisis, the FBCCI president emphasised enhancing remittance earnings by sending more skilled human resources abroad, along with the unskilled manpower already being sent. Read more: Banks’ chief executives must bear responsibility to control defaulted loans: BB Governor He also urged the government to develop a system through which remittances could be sent easily to Bangladesh using legal channels from the Middle East and other areas of the world. Alam, the owner of Chattogram-based M/S Alam Trading, also emphasised enhancing the capacity of foreign missions of Bangladesh so that those missions can arrange trade fairs to display different traditions and non-traditional products as part of the export diversification campaign. Regarding SDG achievement, the FBCCI president said the capacity of domestic businesses must increase to compete with global manufacturers in the age of free trade. Alam said, “Despite different types of obstacles and unfavourable environment, the entrepreneurs of Bangladesh have survived and continued running their businesses even during the Covid-19 pandemic period.” Read more: BGMEA delegation meets Investment Board Chairman of Kurdistan regional government to discuss investment opportunities The FBCCI president emphasised massive research and innovation activities involving youths for Bangladeshi companies to cope with the requirements of the 4th Industrial Revolution, However, he doesn’t buy into the hype that Artificial Intelligence or machine learning will affect employment in Bangladesh, as he believes many jobs still exist that require a human hand. The FBCCI president also focused on increasing domestic rearing of chicken, pigeons, cows, and goats which will help to meet a large portion of the consumption demand for eggs, milk, and meat. It is not possible to supply readymade products, eggs, meat, milk, and other essential items to everyone, he said. Some people have to develop self-dependency when it comes to agricultural items, he pointed out. Read more: BGMEA, Erbil chamber of industry intend to collaborate in promoting bilateral trade
Inflation continues to persist at a high level in Bangladesh, affecting the lifestyles of common people severely as they struggle to survive on limited earnings in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Figures released on Sunday showed general inflation remained virtually unchanged at 9.69 percent on a point-to-point basis for the month of July, having been 9.74 percent in June, said the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). The Ministry of Finance and Bangladesh Bank (BB) have blamed the external factors for inflation while they failed to adopt the right fiscal and monetary policy measures, said economists. Read: General inflation virtually unchanged at 9.69 percent in July Talking with UNB former governor of the Bangladesh Bank Dr Atiur Rahman said Bangladesh could not go for adequate tightening of the monetary policy in time to rein in inflation while the US Federal Reserve continues to raise policy rates persistently. He said, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also been raising policy rates consistently, while agriculture production rising consistently to strengthen the supply side. The market imperfections caused by growth curtail the root cause of higher food inflation and other necessities. The depreciation of the Taka had also been raising imported inflation at these times. The rent-seeking on the roads by some quarters besides higher transport prices due to readjusted fuel prices may have also been fuelling inflation from the supply side, Dr Atiur said. Read: Bangladesh Bank working to normalise inflation and dollar crisis despite geopolitical challenges He suggested the ways out may be to further tighten monetary policy and reduce public expenditure to reduce public borrowing from the central bank to align fiscal policy along with tighter monetary policy. The competition commission and Consumer Protection Authority must wake up to break the curtails. The roads should also be made rent-free to facilitate smooth flows of goods and daily necessities. The exchange rate must be stabilized at a single rate and hurdles for small entrepreneurs in opening letters of credit with adequate dollar support could ensure smooth supplies of imported goods for consumption and raw materials for continued production of goods and services could also help stabilize the prices of the same. Read: Ex-governors optimistic MPS can claw back inflation, implementation the key The regulators should keep on communicating well in anchoring the inflation expectations so that inflation does not get embedded in consumer psychology. Dr Zahid Hussain, the former lead economist of the World Bank's Dhaka office, told UNB that no measure has been taken to rein the inflation so far. He said the reigning repo rate is not affecting the market, and the increase of 1.0 percent in interest rate from July is not making any impact on the money market. He pointed out that printing currency to meet government expenditures is also fuelling inflation. Read: CPD dismisses budget's projections on growth, inflation, revenue collection Dr Zahid said there is no control over pricing of essentials products in the market, and businesses are making hefty profits showing supply-side uncertainty in the wake of the foreign exchange crisis. Dr Ahsan H Mansur, former economist of IMF and executive director of Policy Research Institute (PRI), told UNB that the BB printed more currency (taka) in a single year than it had in the last 50 years, which brought additional inflationary pressure. Denying the BB claim of printing money as a regular matter that has no impact on inflation, Mansur said printing money against the US dollar, which commercial banks sold to the central bank is a different issue. Explaining the situation, Dr Mansur said despite the dollar crisis, the printing of high-speed money (printing currency) is continuing, which obviously brings impact on higher inflation, resulting in Bangladesh’s inflation rising while Sri Lanka and other Asian countries’ inflation is falling.
The parliament passed the Tk 7,61,785 crore national budget for FY 2023-24 -- with the goal of achieving 7.5 percent GDP growth rate and keeping annual inflation at around 6 percent. Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal moved the Appropriations Bill 2023, seeking a budgetary allocation of Tk 11,10,840 crore which was passed by voice votes. READ: Budget will help to build Smart Bangladesh: Speakers Earlier today, the parliament passed the Finance Bill 2023 with some changes. Following the proposal mooted in the House by the Finance Ministry for the parliamentary approval of the appropriation of funds for meeting necessary development and non-development expenditures of the government, the ministers concerned placed justifications for the expenditure by their respective ministries through 59 demands for grants. READ: Proposed budget for FY 2023-24 fails to address macroeconomic challenges, says CPD Earlier, the parliament rejected, by voice votes, a total of only 503 cut-motions that stood in the name of opposition members on 59 demands for grants for different ministries. A total of 10 MPs, including from Jatiya Party and Gono Forum, submitted their cut-motions on the budget. They are: Kazi Firoze Rashid, Rustam Ali Farazi, Mujibul Huq, Fakhrul Imam, Pir Fazlur Rahman, Shamim Haider Patwari, Begum Rawshan Ara Mannan, Hafiz Uddin Ahmed, Mokabbir Khan, and Rezaul Karim Bablu. READ: It’s anti-people designed to plunder national wealth: BNP on National Budget for FY24 They were, however, allowed to participate in the discussion on Commerce Ministry and Health Services Division. Later, Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury quickened the process of passing the demands for grants for different ministries without giving a lunch break. Opposition and independent MPs were present in the House when the Appropriation Bill was passed, and they did not raise objection to passing the bill. READ: Supplementary budget for outgoing fiscal passed in JS Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on June 1 placed a Tk 7,61,785 crore budget for Bangladesh for FY 2023–24, which is 15.2 percent of the GDP, with a philosophy of ensuring a hunger- and poverty-free, knowledge-based, and 'Smart Bangladesh' by 2041. 7.5% GDP growth rate with an expectation of keeping annual inflation at around 6% The allocation for operating and other sectors is Tk 4,36,247 crore, while Tk 2,63,000 crore will go to the Annual Development Programme. The total revenue is estimated at Tk 5 lakh crore. Out of this, Tk 4,30,000 crore will be collected by the National Board of Revenue and Tk 70,000 crore from other sources. Read more: Unrealistic budget won’t help overcome economic crisis: Fakhrul The overall deficit in the proposed budget for FY 2023-24 will stand at Tk 2,61,785 crore, which is 5.2 percent of GDP. Out of the total deficit, Tk 1,55,395 crore will be financed from domestic sources and Tk 1,02,490 crore from external sources.
Think soaring costs were caused by the Ukraine war or supply chain snarls? You must be unaware of the "Beyoncé effect". The official start of the singer's worldwide tour in Sweden last month caused such a rush for hotel rooms and restaurant meals that it has reflected in the country's economic data, reports BBC. In May, Sweden reported higher-than-expected inflation of 9.7%. The surprise was due to rising hotel and restaurant costs, the report said. According to Michael Grahn, economist at Danske Bank, Beyoncé may have contributed to the increase in hotel costs. He believed she was also a driving force behind the unusually massive increase in recreation and cultural expenses. Also read: BTS on 1st Grammy nod: 'It’s hard to express in words' "I wouldn't ... blame Beyoncé for [the] high inflation, but her performance and global demand to see her perform in Sweden apparently added a little to it," he wrote in an email to the BBC. There is little doubt that the singer's first solo tour in seven years is a significant business event. According to one estimate, the tour may earn over £2 billion by the time it concludes in September. Airbnb reported that searches for accommodation in locations on the tour increased after the announcement. Many shows sold out in days, and resale prices skyrocketed, the BBC report also said. Also read: Grammy-winning duo Daft Punk break up after 28 years In the United Kingdom, 60,000 people arrived in Cardiff, including fans from Lebanon, the United States, and Australia. Demand for hotel rooms related to her London show was so high that several homeless families being accommodated in a hotel by the local authorities were reportedly kicked out to make space for the fans, it said. The Stockholm concerts, where Beyoncé performed before an audience of 46,000 over two nights, apparently drew fans from all over the world, particularly the United States, where a strong dollar against the krona made tickets in the Nordic country appear to be a relative bargain. Visit Stockholm termed the surge in travel to the city the "Beyoncé effect" in an email to the Washington Post last month. Sweden's inflation rate peaked in December at 12.3%. Official numbers showed that the rate was 9.7% last month, down from 10.5% in April. The financial markets had predicted around 9.4%. Also read: Beyoncé ties Alison Krauss’ record of 27 wins at Grammys Grahn told the BBC that it is "very rare" for one celebrity to have such an effect, adding that large football tournaments may have a similar effect. He stated on social media that the anticipated trends will return to normal in June.
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. Read more: Unrealistic budget won’t help overcome economic crisis: Fakhrul "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. Read more: CPD dismisses budget's projections on growth, inflation, revenue collection 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. Read more: Budget 2023-24: Govt allocates Tk88,162 crore in education sector, up 8.2% 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. Read more: Budget sets 7.5 percent annual economic growth, inflation at 6 percent
The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a think tank, in its traditional post-budget review on Friday (June 2, 2023) said the proposed national budget of Bangladesh for FY 2023-24 projected ambitious targets for both GDP growth and inflation, without putting forth any realistic measures to achieve them in light of global and domestic crises. The CPD said budget focused on increasing tax-GDP ratio, but the revenue growth target is not realistic, so the volume of deficit financing will ultimately widen. CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun led the post-budget review, held at a hotel in Gulshan, and televised live on some tv channels. She said the budget has been placed at a time when the macroeconomic stability of Bangladesh has weakened significantly. REad: Proposed budget targets are challenging: FICCI “The macroeconomic stress is visible on lowering growth of revenue mobilisation and shrinking of fiscal space of current fiscal year (FY 2022-23), soaring borrowing from banks, higher price of daily essentials and decreasing foreign exchange reserve,” she added. The private credit growth projected to 15 percent in FY 2023-24 that was 14.1 percent in 2022-23. As of April 2023, private sector credit growth was 11.3 percent, she said. Replying to a query, CPD’s distinguished fellow professor Dr Mustafizur Rahman said the revenue growth projection in 2023-24, compared with actual revenue achievement of FY2022-23, wpi;d be a massive 39 percent, which is "absolutely ambitious" - perhaps even overambitious. The budget’s growth projection occurred based on a wrong concept, so multi sectoral problems would arrive in the implementing stage of the proposed budget. Read more: Budget 2023-24: Govt allocates Tk88,162 crore in education sector, up 8.2% Mustafiz expected a monetary policy reflecting fiscal policy in light of the budget and controlling measures of higher inflation. Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of CPD said the budget technically avoided the capital market development policy, which is very essential for such a developing economy. “Without establishing a realistic and sustainable capital market, investment financing cannot grow, the government incentive based capital market cannot play a role in new investment in the capital market,” he added. Towfiqul Islam Khan, Senior Research Fellow in CPD said curiously, no mention was found regarding the accumulation of external payments arrears or new forex reserve. REad: Finance minister unveils the country’s largest ever budget in Parliament Details about critical reforms, including shifting towards market-based dollar exchange rate and interest rate and adoption of periodic formula-based petroleum product prices, have not been explained in the budget speech, he said. The CPD projection said Bangladesh's proposed national budget of FY 2023-24 targets 15.5 percent growth will be around 39.7 percent growth target compared to the current budget achievement and Tk1.42 lakh crore is needed to be mobilized.
The proposed budget of Bangladesh in the fiscal year 2023-24 has set an estimated Gross Domestic Product (GPD) worth of 50.06 lakh crore with a 7.5 percent annual growth. The inflation target was set to 6 percent which is now 9.28 percent in the proposed budget. The 7.5 percent growth projection could be deemed as ambitious given the uncertainties in the global economy and various other challenges at home. Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal explained his position on why he is expecting higher growth this time despite the economic pressures. Read more: Finance Minister unveils Tk 761,785 crore national budget “We expect to return to a higher growth trajectory and achieve a 7.5 percent GDP growth, by way of investing in the productive sectors and stimulating productivity and domestic demand,” he said. Kamal focused on investment in the 100 special economic zones and completing ongoing mega-projects to achieve the GDP target. In FY19, Bangladesh achieved a record 8.15 percent GDP growth. Then came the pandemic. The finance minister set a growth target of 8.2 percent in FY20, but the actual growth achieved was 3.45 percent, the lowest in several decades. The growth rate increased to 6.94 percent in FY21 after recovering from pandemic effects. The GDP growth further increased to 7.1 percent in FY22. Read more: Budget FY23-24: Focus should be on tackling macroeconomic challenges, says Dr Atiur Rahman