The national budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 worth Tk 5,68,000 crore was passed on Tuesday at the Jatiya Sangsad amid criticisms of the state of the country’s health sector now struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some MPs from the Jatiya Party and one from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party blamed mismanagement and corruption for the sorry state of the health sector exposed in the current COVID-19 calamity.
JP lawmaker Pir Fazlur Rahman demanded removal of the health minister when he was taking part in the discussion on the allocation for the ministry of health.
Defending himself, the health minister predicted that Bangladesh would catch up with the US in terms of average life expectancy, now 73 years for the Bangladeshis against 78 years for the Americans.
Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury allowed a discussion on the allocation for only another ministry — the ministry of law — in the unprecedented brief budget session against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of nine JP and BNP lawmakers — Kazi Firoze Rashid, Mujibul Huq, Fakhrul Imam, Pir Fazlur Rahman, Shamim Haider Patwari, Liaquat Hossain Khoka, Begum Rawshan Ara Mannan, Harun Ur Rashid and Rumeen Farhana — submitted 421 cut-motions against 59 demands for grants for different ministries.
Most of the motions were rejected by voice vote while the others were guillotined.
Earlier, finance minister Mustafa Kamal placed the Appropriations Bill 2020 seeking a budgetary allocation of Tk 7,59,642.44 crore.
As per the ministry- and division-wise allocation, the Local Government Division received Tk 36,103 crore, followed respectively by the Health Services Division with Tk 22,883 crore, the ministry of health and family welfare with Tk 6,362 crore, the Road Transport and Highways Division with Tk 29,442 crore, the Power Division with Tk 24,853 crore , the ministry of agriculture with Tk 15,442 crore, the Secondary and Higher Education Division with Tk 33,118 crore, the ministry of primary and mass education with Tk 24,937 crore and the ministry of defence with Tk 34,842 crore.
An amount of Tk 10,000 crore was kept aside in the budget as block allocation to tackle the COVID-19 situation as Mustafa Kamal earlier announced in the proposed budget in parliament on June 11.
The finance minister projected 8.2 per cent growth in the gross domestic product and 5.4 per cent inflation for the next fiscal year, beginning today.
In the just-concluded fiscal year, the government was forced to make a downward revision of the GDP to 5.2 per cent from the original 8.2 per cent due to the disruption in the economic activities resulting from COVID-19 that broke out in the country in March.
The finance minister faced stern criticisms as he set the new fiscal year’s revenue target at Tk. 3,78,000 crore that, according to economists, was overambitious against the revenue shortfall of over Tk 1 lakh core in the outgoing fiscal year.
The new fiscal year’s revenue target is achievable, Mustafa Kamal argued, as the automation in the revenue administration will be completed in this fiscal year.
Of the overall revenue, Tk 3,30,000 crore was targeted to be collected through the National Broad of Revenue.
The overall budget deficit has been estimated at Tk 1,90,000 crore, which is 6 per cent of the GDP, up from 5.0 per cent in the last fiscal year.
Of the total deficit, Tk 80,017 crore will be financed from external sources.
Some Tk 1,09,983 crore will be taken as loan from domestic sources. Of the amount, Tk 84,983 crore will come from the banking system and Tk 25,000 crore from savings certificates and other non-bank sources.
The government has undertaken the annual development programme worth Tk 2,05,145 crore for this fiscal year.
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