Cultural activists observed that the allocation for cultural affairs ministry in the proposed national budget for the fiscal year 2019-20 is poor and disappointing.
Finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, in his budget speech on Thursday, proposed that the allocation for the cultural affairs ministry should be fixed at Tk 575 crore, which is 0.11 per cent of the proposed national budget of Tk 5,23,190 crore.
In the FY 2018-19, the actual allocation for the cultural affairs ministry was Tk 625 crore in the revised budget and Tk 509 crore in the proposed budget.
The poor budget allocation for culture scene contradicts the government’s expressed intention to patronise, promote and disseminate cultural practices across the country to fight against militancy, drugs and other social problems, said cultural activists.
‘We have been demanding at least one per cent of the national budget to be allocated for the culture sector. But, every year, we get disappointed,’ International Theatre Institute’s honourary president Ramendu Majumder told New Age.
‘We have time and again asked the government to allocate an adequate budget for the culture sector. Investment in the culture sector can make the country a better place to live in devoid of extremism and other social menaces,’ added Majumdar.
Sammilita Sangskritik Jote president Ghulam Quddus also said that the proposed budget is very disappointing.
‘The government has taken many mega development projects in diverse sectors but seems to be neglectful to the importance of cultural development for building an enlightened future generation,’ said Quddus.
‘The allocation in the proposed budget is very insufficient to patronise cultural activities and traditional artistes, many of whom are giving up practising traditional performing arts for poverty,’ added Quddus.
Compared to the actual budget for the FY 2018-19, the proposed national budget increased by Tk 58,617 crore from Tk 4,64,573 crore to Tk 5,23,190 crore, allocation for culture scene increased by only Tk 66 crore from Tk 509 crore to Tk 575.
The lion’s share of the allocated budget will, as usual, be spent for salaries, maintenance works and paying utility bills. In the proposed budget the finance minister set Tk 315 crore for operational expenditure and Tk 260 crore for development expenditure.
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