Dhaka, June 12: Noting that the proposed budget for fiscal 2020-21 was prepared in a different reality and context, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader on Friday said this budget is a balanced and life-oriented economic plan.“Considering all the aspects, a balanced budget has been announced this year to recover the country’s economy from coronavirus fallout. This is a people-friendly and life-oriented economic plan,” he said.
Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister, was speaking at a press conference through videoconferencing from his official residence.
The press briefing was arranged at the AL president’s Dhanmondi political office here to give the party’s reaction on the proposed national budget for fiscal 2020-21.
AL presidium members Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Abdur Rahman, joint general secretaries Dr Dipu Mini and AFM Bahauddin Nasim, publicity secretary Dr Abdus Sobhan Golap, office secretary barrister Biplab Barua and deputy office secretary Sayeem Khan were, among others, present at the press briefing.
Quader said the proposed budget for fiscal 2020-21 is a realistic document to turn the ongoing coronavirus crisis into a potential one.
The budget is the output of the time-befitting and courageous thoughts of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina-led government to maintain balance between the lives and livelihoods of people amid the coronavirus pandemic, he said.
In the proposed budget, the AL general secretary said, the government has given special importance on creation of employment opportunities.
Citing the forecast of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), he said about 14 lakh people could lose their jobs in the country due to coronavirus crisis and that is why the government has taken steps to increase investment amid the ongoing crisis.
“Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the size of the budget did not dwindle but it increased,” he added.
Expressing gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal and others concerned for presenting a people-friendly budget, Quader said the proposed budget was placed overcoming all impediments to ensure normal life for people apart from tacking coronavirus crisis.
He said the finance minister placed the biggest budget in the country’s history – Tk 5.68 lakh crore budget – although the country has been facing coronavirus crisis for the last several months.
This budget is the result of the continuous progress of the country’s economy in the last 11 years under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he said.
The road transport and bridges minister said: “Many may think that the proposed budget is an ambitious one. But people have high expectations from the Awami League. Sheikh Hasina will take all the risks which she needs to fulfill their expectation.”
He said the aim of this year’s budget is to build the base of continuity of previous development by overcoming the economic meltdown amid the coronavirus crisis.
Highlighting the features of the proposed budget, Quader said the highest allocation has been given to the education sector for the next fiscal.
He said Tk 41,027 crore was proposed for the health sector in fiscal 2020-21, while Tk 850 crore has been allocated for giving honorarium to the frontline COVID-19 fighters, including doctors, nurses and health workers.
The budget has proposed a block allocation of Tk 10,000 crore to meet any urgent needs to address COVID-19 pandemic, the AL general secretary said.
Mentioning that the budget has given the second highest priority to the agriculture sector, he said different plans have been taken to mechanise agriculture sector, give stimulus for irrigation and seeds, and provide subsidy to farmers for fertilisers aiming to boost food production.
Quader said a Tk 3,138 crore project has been taken in the proposed budget for mechanisation of agriculture sector, while the government proposed an allocation of Tk 9,500 crore for providing subsidy to agriculture.