Principles of budget should be to simplify people’s lives through taming inflation: economists

Three renowned economists of the country have prioritized taming inflation, strengthening the social safety nets and maintaining economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as the main principles for delivering the national budget for the next fiscal year (FY24).

They said that the issue of strengthening social safety nets demands higher priority for maintaining smooth livelihood of the commoners at a time when the global economy is finding it hard to continue economic recovery from the shocks of the pandemic and the onslaught of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Former Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman, distinguished fellow of the civil society think tank, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Dr Mustafizur Rahman and Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA) general secretary Dr Ainul Islam shed lights on the upcoming budget for the next fiscal year while talking to BSS.

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal is set to place the budget for fiscal year 2023-24 (FY24), the last one of the current Awami League government at the Jatiya Sangsad on June 1.

Talking to BSS, country’s eminent economist and former central bank governor Dr Atiur Rahman said that the country was passing through a tough time when the national budget for two fiscal years were placed in parliament as policies and strategies relating to smooth economic recovery from the pandemic was the centre of concentration during that time.

Then the policymakers had to consider the shocks of the Russia-Ukraine war while framing the budget for the last fiscal year (FY23), Dr Atiur said, adding that in continuation of this, the government would also have to keep in mind while framing the next budget the strategy for facing the macroeconomic challenges, including the impacts of global unprecedented inflation created because of the war.

Noting that facing the challenges of taming inflation would be the reason of “headache” for the government, he said, “The issue of strengthening social safety nets demands due priority for ensuring smooth livelihood and movement of the commoners,”

Dr Atiur went on saying, “The ensuing budget should have to be delivered very cautiously, otherwise, the government will have to find out a new path,”

Citing that the next budget would be the last budget ahead of the next general election side by side there are also some additional pressures on fulfilling some suggestions of the IMF, he said this upcoming budget bears a unique significance as a ‘national psychological document’ for facing the emerging challenges like mobilizing additional revenues in the wake of rising prices of commodities and services.

For doing this, there is no alternative for exploring additional sources of taxes and for squeezing the facility of tax exemptions in some sectors, he noted.

Making some recommendations for the next budget, the economist said that firstly the government should have to make massive reforms in the tax structure especially modernization of resource tax. The income tax rate should be increased for the rich people while the minimum tax ceiling should be enhanced, he added.

Secondly, he said that the scope for income opportunities for the people of the low-income group should be increased so that they could easily get access to the local and foreign labour market for which time befitting training programmes should continue.

Thirdly, Dr Atiur noted that for creating a long-term base for balanced development, there is a need for imposing carbon tax for green development and introducing solar irrigation business system.

In his 4th recommendation, he proposed for raising investments in the education and health sectors to reduce further the rate of poverty alongside lowering income inequality in the society.

The eminent economist also underscored the need for reaching the support to the real people through proper targeting side by side not leaning to the path of controlling price of commodities and providing subsidies to give relief to the common people from the inflationary pressure.

He put importance on undertaking special social safety net programmes and development projects to make smooth the livelihood of the char people, people living in the disaster-prone areas, and also considering the poverty pockets.

Distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Prof Dr Mustafizur Rahman termed reining in inflation as the biggest challenge for the next budget coupled with restoring economic stability during the post-pandemic period.

“Currently high inflation and mobilization of resources have emerged as challenges side by side there is also pressure on the foreign currency reserve. The imports are being hampered due to the lowering trend of inflation for which there are dissimilarities between demand and supply. The IMF has also given some conditions. The budget for the next fiscal year should be framed keeping ahead these challenges,” he added.

Dr Mustafizur mentioned that the size of the budget for the next fiscal year would be around 15 to 16 percent of GDP of which mobilization of resources would reach 9 to 9.5 percent. If a budget deficit of around 6 percent is added to this, then the overall budget size would not exceed 15.5 percent, he added.

The eminent economist also recommended for raising investment for those poor who have gone below the poverty line due to the pandemic, reducing the social disparity, prioritizing programmes to cushion the low-income group people, raising the number of family card holders to 1.5 crore for availing government support, introducing ration system alongside the OMS operations to give support to the urban poor.

Besides, Dr Mustafizur also laid emphasis on raising the direct tax alongside widening the tax net, increasing the number of new taxpayers through digitalization, strengthening further the National Board of Revenue (NBR) through investing in its technological department, increasing manpower, and enhancing the skills.

“The budget should keep the provision for checking tax evasion. Besides, special attention should be given on continuing various reform initiatives like on the income tax and customs act,” he said, adding that the government should maintain utmost caution before undertaking any development project. Priority in expenditure now should be on education, health and social safety nets instead of infrastructures, he said.

Prof Mustafizur said that while making deficit financing, the government would have to ensure that the private sector investment would not be deterred. Besides, the government should focus more on taking foreign loans instead of taking loans from the banking sector.

Suggesting for reorganizing the subsidy policy in the budget, he said that the government should not compromise towards food security while it could go tough on those ministries and divisions which are eating up most of the subsidies due to their inefficiencies.

General Secretary of the Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA) Prof Dr Ainul Islam said that giving relief to the common people through taming inflation should be the main policy of the government while framing the next budget.

“The present government has pledged to build ‘Smart Bangladesh’. So, we’ll have to frame the budget going beyond the traditional practice, which will be suitable for building ‘Smart Bangladesh,” he said.

He also suggested for widening the coverage of the social safety net programmes, providing direct cash support to the marginal people, taking special initiatives for boosting farm production.

Dr Ainul also proposed for giving duty exemptions on essential items if there is necessity side by side increasing food support through family cards.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Bogura spice grinding shop fined Tk 1 lakh

A team of Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP), in a drive, here today realized Taka one lakh as fine from the owner of Sultan Badshah spice grinding shop for mixing textile dye and wood with spice and indulging in various other irregularities under Sadar upazila of the district.

Sources concerned said the team led by assistant director of Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) in Bogura Iftekharul Alam Rizvi conducted the drive at Sultan Badshah spice grinding shop and fined Taka one lakh for mixing textile dye and wood with spice in Raja Bazar under Sadar upazila of the district.

The business establishment was fined Taka 100,000 for various irregularities and violation of the Consumer Rights Protection Act-2009.

Members of the law enforcement agencies assisted in the operation.

The DNCPR would continue the drive in the district, assistant director of DNCRP Iftekharul Alam Rizvi added.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

65pc construction works of 8.5km CDA marine drive road completed

At least 65 percent construction works of 8.5km long Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) embankment-cum- marine drive road at a cost of TK 2279 crore have been completed so far till today.

Rajib Das, Project Director (PD) of Chaktai to Kalurghat Bridge Marine Drive Project on the west bank of Karnaphuli River, said the construction works of the seven- kilometre out of 8.5-kilometre of the project have been progressing fast as the land acquisition activities have been completed from the area.

The construction and land acquisition activities of the rest 1.50 km from Kalurghat Industrial area to Kalurghat Railway bridge will be started from next month as all kinds of obstacles have already been removed, he added.

The PD said, at least 81 percent construction works of 12 high-tide protection regulators and pump-houses are being installed at the mouths of 12 canals to quick dispose up the rain water from the city area have been completed till today.

He hoped that the construction works of 12 high-tide protection regulators and pump-houses will be completed by October next.

PD Rajib said the construction works of eleven more sluice gates, erected at the estuary of 11 canals of the city under this project will be completed by March next year.

Meanwhile, the schedule time for completion of the project was extended for two years more. Earlier, the schedule time for completion of the project was June 2022. Presently, it has been extended up to June 2024.

Rajib informed that if the CDA marine drive is constructed, the vehicles bound for north and northeastern region of Chattogram from the southeast will directly reach Kaptai, Rangunia and Boalkhali upazilas of the district without entering the city.

The embankment-cum-road will be a four-lane one and its height will be 24.5 feet above from the sea level and 80 feet wide as per the guidelines of Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and survey of the Chattogram Metropolitan Master Plan of 1995.

The construction works of the Chaktai to Kalurghat bridge marine drive project was inaugurated in June 2019 last with the construction of a sluice gate at the estuary of Chaktai canal.

The project was approved in the meeting of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) on April 25 in 2017.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

President for strengthening vigilance of BGB in stopping border killings, smuggling

President Mohammed Shahabuddin today asked the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) to be more vigil in stopping border killings, smuggling and drug abuse.

The President came up with directive when BGB Director General (DG) Major General AKM Nazmul Hasan paid a courtesy call on him at Bangabhaban here this afternoon.

"During the meeting, the BGB chief apprised the President of the overall activities, including the development and operational ones of the force," President's press secretary Md Joynal Abedin told BSS after the meeting.

The Head of the State also appreciated the responsible role of BGB in defending the country's 4,427 km frontiers.

President Shahabuddin also directed this paramilitary force, responsible for border security of the country, to work sincerely in line with the "Zero Tolerance Policy" to prevent drug infiltration.

Referring to the upcoming Jatiya Sangsad polls, the President said, "The BGB must stay in maximum alert to stop any kind of intrusion to ensure holding of a free, fair, neutral and peaceful elections."

President's Office Secretary Sampad Barua, President's Military Secretary Major General SM Salah Uddin Islam, President's Press Secretary Md Joynal Abedin and Secretary (Attachment) Wahidul Islam Khan were present during the meeting.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Meeting on HIV/AIDS prevention held in C’nawabganj

A sensitization meeting was held on Tuesday in the district with a view to prevent HIV/AIDS.

Dhaka Ahsania Mission organised the meeting under the 'Prioritised HIV Prevention and Treatment Services For the Key Population in Bangladesh' programme.

It was held with the civil surgeon of Chapainawabganj Dr Mahmudur Rashid in the chair at his conference room.

Former panel mayor of Chapainawabganj municipality Mst. Moslema Begum, councillor of the same Ziaur Rahman Arman, gyne specialist Dr Shahnaj Begum, health education officer of the civil surgeon's office Abdullah Al Shams, among others, were present.

The speakers stressed on mass consciousness to prevent HIV/AIDS.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Govt to procure 1.80cr liters of soybean oil, 80,000 metric tons of fertilizer

The Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP) today approved separate proposals for procuring some 1.80 crore liters of soybean oil, 80,000 metric tons of fertilizer and 12,500 metric tons of sugar to meet the growing demand of the country.

The approvals came from the 18th meeting of the CCGP in this year held today virtually with Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the chair.

Briefing reporters after the meeting virtually, Cabinet Division additional secretary Sayeed Mahbub Khan informed that the day's CCGP meeting approved a total of 11 proposals.

He said following a proposal from the Ministry of Commerce, the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) would procure some 1.10 crore liters of soybean oil under international tender method from Accentuate Technology Inc USA (Local Agent:OMC Ltd Dhaka) with around Taka 129.58 crore where per liter soybean oil would cost Taka 140.16.

Besides, the TCB would procure some 12,500 metric tons of sugar under Direct Procurement Method from Brandshare Trading Ltd Dhaka with around Taka 131.25 crore where per KG sugar would cost Taka 105.

The TCB would also procure some 70 lakh liters of soybean oil under local Open Tender Method from City Edible Oil Ltd with around Taka 127.85 crore where per liter soybean oil would cost Taka 182.65.

The Cabinet Division additional secretary said following two separate proposals from the Ministry of Agriculture, Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) would procure some 30,000 metric tons of TSP fertilizer under the 3rd lot under state-level agreement from OCP, SA, Morocco with around Taka 120.03 crore with per ton fertilizer costing $368.

Besides, the BADC would procure some 50,000 metric tons of MOP fertilizer under the 5th lot under state-level agreement from Canadian Commercial Corporation with around Taka 226.68 crore with per ton fertilizer costing $418.

Mahbub said that the day's CCGP meeting approved three separate proposals from the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) on the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar.

He said that the joint venture of Cheil Engineering Co Ltd Korea, Yooshin Engineering Corporation, Korea and Engineering and Planning Consultants Ltd Bangladesh will act as consultants at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar Development Project with around Taka 53,53,34,375.

The joint venture of CCECC, China and CRCC, China will implement the work for constructing 10.70 kilometer roads and 16.557 kilometer drainage works with around Taka 237.99 crore at the Mirersarai-2A economic zone area under Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar.

Apart from these, the CCGP meeting approved a proposal under which the National Development Engineers Ltd would construct 12.10 kilometer roads and 12.861 kilometer drainage network with around Taka 219.93 crore at Mirersarai-2B economic zone area.

Besides, the meeting approved a proposal from the Ministry of Land and two variation proposals from the Local Government Division and the Ministry of Water Resources.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Formulating action plans to speed up nutrition activities underscored

Speakers at a function here underscored the need for formulating action plans to speed up the nutrition-related activities in grass root level in a bid to ensure nutrition for all.

"As nutrition is an important ingredient for physical intelligence and intellectual development of every human body, proper action plans are needed to ensure nutrition for all. Training also makes the members of district and upazila nutrition coordination committees efficient and helps them conduct nutrition-related activities in a planned and proper way", they also said.

They came up with the comments while addressing a daylong training workshop on 'Nutrition Action Plan Preparation and Monitoring' at Balashi conference room of SKS Inn here yesterday.

Sustained Opportunity for Nutrition Governance (SONGO) project which is being implemented in Gaibandha and Kurigram districts by RDRS Bangladesh and Netherlands based international organization Cordaid arranged the function with the financial support of the European Union.

Dr.Zubaida Nasreen, director of Bangladesh National Nutrition Council (BNNC), addressed it as the chief guest and deputy directors Dr. Akhter Imam and Dr. Nusrat Jahan Methen spoke at the event as the special guests while civil surgeon Dr. Abdullahel Mafi presided over the function.

Chief guest Dr. Zubaida Nasreen said as the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave emphasis on nutrition for all, she urged the concerned to be serious and work dedicatedly from the respective position to achieve the indicators regarding nutrition to help the government achieve sustainable development goals by 2030.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Swedish envoy visits Thanapara Swallows Development Society at Charghat

Swedish Ambassador to Bangladesh Alexandra Berg

von Linde has visited the Thanapara Swallows Development Society (TSDS) at

Charghat in the district on Tuesday to see for herself its present

development activities.

TSDS Executive Director Raihan Ali said here today that the envoy was

impressed by the hand-made goods produced in the TSDS, which was established

with Swedish financial support in 1972.

During her daylong visit, she was accompanied by the Counselor of the Embassy

Jacob Itat, First Secretary Anna Svantation, and Intern Miss Lindavrin.

The four-member delegation led by the envoy held a view-sharing meeting with

TSDS Executive Director Raihan Ali and Director Mahmuda Begum, Charghat

Upazila Chairman Fakrul Islam, Upazila Nirbahi Officer(UNO) Sohrab Hossain,

Charghat Pourashava Mayor Ekramul Haque.

The Pakistani Army had killed over 400 innocent villagers at Thanapara

village under Charghat upazila in the district on this day in 1971.

On that day, hundreds of people including women and children from Thanpara

adjacent to Sardah Police Academy, half-a-kilometer north-west from Charghat

Bazar, left their houses and took shelter on the bank of river Padma.

Later, the Pakistan army surrounded them and opened fire indiscriminately,

leaving as many as four hundred people dead. The area witnessed mass killing

of Bangladeshi freedom fighters during the Liberation War.

The brutal attack by Pakistan invaders killed the unarmed men and injured

many others in the Thanapara village that was later declared as a widow

village after independence.

Representatives of the Swallows in Sweden came to work for the victims of the

Liberation War in the devastated village in a post-war time in 1972.

Meanwhile, around 300 people both male and female of martyred families have

attained economic emancipation through income-generating activities related

to handicrafts and handloom industries at the village.

In order to create self-employment opportunities, they first established

weaving and initially started training 13 widows.

At present the TSDS employs about 350 rural backward women through handicraft

projects.

The women behind these stocks are making garments through the works of yarn

dyes, weaving fabrics, hand embroidery and sewing and the garments are

exported to almost eight countries of the world.

Children's day care and primary education activities are being carried out

with productive children, including fair wages, improved working conditions,

transparency and accountability, child labor avoidance, gender equality and

timely training.

TSDS Executive Director told BSS that they are working to eliminate the

causes of poverty in the remote village and to alleviate suffering.

The Thanapara village with areas of concentration focusing on skills

development for the affected women which led to the establishment of the

handicraft program and the marginal women are becoming self-reliant through

producing the products and selling those to the international markets, he

said.

Ali further said their mission is to empower the poor and underprivileged

population by eradicating illiteracy, creating health awareness and self-

employment, raising awareness among the landless for the rights of land and

empowering women by creating economic and social awareness.

Vision of the venture is to establish a democratic society by developing the

socio-economic condition of the poor.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Newly-appointed minister, state minister sworn in

President Ramchandra Paudel has administered the oath of office and secrecy to newly-appointed minister Birendra Prasad Mahato.

The Head-of-the-State administered the oath of office and secrecy in accordance with Article 80 of the Constitution of Nepal amidst a special ceremony organised at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Shital Niwas today.

On the occasion, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' administered the oath of office and secrecy to newly-appointed Minister of State Pramila Kumari in accordance with Article 80 of the Constitution of Nepal.

The President had on Tuesday appointed both Mahato and Pramila to the post of Minister and Minister of State respectively. The present Council of Ministers has got full shape with their induction and swearing in.

Source: National News Agency-Nepal

Govt works to make Bangladesh digital device manufacturing hub: Jabbar

Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar today said that the government is working to build the country as a manufacturing hub for digital devices and exporter of those.

"Already, the mobiles produced in Bangladesh meet 95 percent of the domestic demand and have created a huge employment opportunities. One of the goals of the government's digitization plan was to transform the country into an exporter of digital devices from an importer," he said.

The minister said these while virtually speaking from his office as the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony of 'I Smart U Factory', a mobile phone manufacturing factory of Transsion Holdings, at Meghna Industrial Economic Zone in Narayanganj district, said a press release here.

Noting that Bangladesh has achieved remarkable progress in the mobile handset manufacturing industry, Jabbar said along with ensuring the quality of digital devices produced in Bangladesh, the mobile phone manufacturing companies should give importance to research and development.

Highlighting the government's endeavors to build technology-friendly 'Smart Bangladesh', he said, "As a result of the government's technology-friendly policy, 15 world-class mobile companies have set up mobile phone factories in the country and several more factories are in the pipeline".

Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) Executive Chairman Shaikh Yusuf Harun, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Vice Chairman Engineer Md Mohiuddin Ahmed, Meghna Group of Industries Chairman Mostafa Kamal, Transsion Holdings Chairman George Zhu, and Economic and Commercial Counsellor of Chinese Embassy in Bangladesh Song Yang spoke at the function, among others.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Newly-appointed ministers to take oath of office today

Newly-appointed Minister Birendra Prasad Mahato and Minister of State Pramila Kumari are scheduled to take the oath of office, today. Mahato and Pramila are to be inducted in the cabinet on behalf of the Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP), Nepal.

According to the JSP sources, the newly-appointed minsters are taking oath of office at a programme to be held at the President's Office this morning.

Mahato was appointed the Minister for Forest and Environment and Pramila was designated the Minister of State for Education, Science and Technology on Tuesday.

President Ramchandra Paudel, upon the recommendation of Prime Minster Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', appointed Mahato and Pramila as the minister and state minister.

With this, a 25-member Council of Ministers has come to a complete shape. ---

Source: National News Agency-Nepal

Government committed for marginalized community’s rights-PM

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' expressed unswerving commitment of the government to protect the identity and rights of the minority and marginalized communities.

At a discussion with a delegation headed by Nepal Kumal Improvement Committee Chairperson Tej Bahadur Kumal, PM Dahal said he was in favour of promoting the identity and protecting the rights of all minorities, including Kumal community.

"Though small in population size, the Kumal community has a noted role in the social and political change of Nepal. The community has an impressive history, culture and importance", the PM noted.

On the occasion, Prime Minster Dahal recalled his struggle to bring all minorities and marginalized communities to the mainstream of the state and expressed firm commitment of the government to the development, prosperity, welfare and issues of the communities at margin.

Also present on the occasion were Constituent Assembly member Gyanendra Kumal, Chairperson of Kumal Mukti Morcha Kanchan Kumal and Vice-chairperson of National Federation of Indigenous Nationalities Shruti Kumal, among others. ---

Source: National News Agency-Nepal