Budget needs to protect marginal sections’ purchasing power

Speakers at virtual discussions stressed that the budget for the next fiscal needs to protect marginal and lower-middle classes from the adverse impact of spiraling prices of essentials.

They also highlighted that losses caused by the pandemic in the areas of economic activities, education and health should be the priority of the upcoming national budget.

The speakers came up with remarks while addressing a virtual dialogue organized by Citizen’s Platform for SDGs Bangladesh on Upcoming National Budget 2022-2023, held on Sunday.

At the dialogue, representatives of the disadvantaged population groups and the partner organizations of the Citizen’s Platform shared their views and expectations on the upcoming national budget, in view of the challenges faced by the disadvantaged communities at the grassroots level.

The speakers said the outbreak of Covid-19 has caused both national and global repercussions. As the world was preparing to mitigate the losses, the conflict in Ukraine emerged as another shock.

“Bangladesh is also bearing the consequences. The prices of different commodities have soared in the domestic market. Indeed, the global and national disruptions in the supply chain have caused the prices of necessary items to go up, making the daily necessities out of the reach of low and lower-middle income groups,” they added.

The overall public expenditure should be increased, especially in the areas of agriculture, education, employment, health and social safety net programmes, said Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Convener, Citizen’s Platform for SDGs and Distinguished Fellow, CPD.

He stated that the general public should have the opportunity to respond prior to the actual budget if a draft of the budget or budget policy is shared. A targeted expansionary monetary policy is now needed, he said.

The next budget, for the 2022-23 fiscal, is due to be tabled in June.

Khandekar Jahurul Alam, Executive Director, Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID) specified that education, health and employment are the three areas where persons with disabilities have been most affected. He informed that more than 40,000 children with disabilities dropped out of school during the pandemic.

Shakeb Nabi, Country Representative, Cordaid, highlighted that the majority of the small and marginalized farmers are in the informal sector. Md. Mostofa Ali, Senior Program Officer, Oxfam in Bangladesh also said that the agriculture budget should be farmer-friendly and include the farmers.

Shima Moslem, Joint General Secretary, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad emphasis should be given to establishing women’s political, economic, and human rights to bring them to the mainstream level.

Biplob Chandra Das, student, Government Bangabondhu College, said that a large section of Horijon children dropped out of school while child marriages increased during the pandemic.

Avra Bhattacharjee, Joint Director, Dialogue and Outreach, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said the national budget should address the issues along with the government’s commitment to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Source: United News of Bangladesh