Prioritise health, education, agriculture in next budget: BNP

The BNP on Friday called for giving highest priority to health, education and agriculture sectors in the next budget to save lives and tackle the fallouts of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This year's budget should be a budget for saving lives, managing and tackling risks. Focus should also be given in the budget for controlling the coronavirus and overcoming its fallouts,” said the party’s Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.

Five days before the placement of the national budget for 2021-22 fiscal year in parliament, he presented a 24-point proposal of BNP on the budget at a press conference at BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office.

Fakhrul said the only way out of the current critical situation is to take effective steps by combining life and livelihood.

“BNP wants to see this year's budget as a starting point of specific guidelines for the future economy… BNP also wants to see the forthcoming budget as a pledge to establish good governance and ensure accountability and the future economy' policy and strategy,” he said.

In his 24-point proposal, the BNP leader said the government should set aside adequate allocations for the health, education and agriculture sectors.

“The health sector should be included in the list of maximum allocations in the budget. Best management must be ensured to continue both the prevention of the pandemic and the treatment of the disease in a balanced way,” he said.

Fakhrul said education sector allocation needs to be increased to prevent students from dropping out, provide scholarships, expand technology, provide financial assistance to Covid-affected educational institutions, conduct research and develop infrastructure, and expand higher education.

“At the same time, strategic measures such as diversification of agriculture, industry and service sector, enhancement of production, technological capability, productivity and survival in competition must be taken. Five percent of the GDP should be allocated for the agriculture sector,” he suggested.

Besides, Fakhrul said 6-7 percent of the GDP needs to be allocated for the unemployed and marginalised people.

He also proposed announcing a three-month incentive of Tk 15,000 from the state fund for the day labourers, and impartially preparing a list of the disadvantaged beneficiaries.

The party also suggested establishing an agriculture commission, sustainable health systems by constructing specialised hospitals and dedicated infectious-disease hospitals in every district for tackling a pandemic like coronavirus, increasing the number of beds and ICUs in district hospitals, introducing national health cards and exploring alternative markets for export diversification.

Fakhrul called upon the government to form a high-level 'economic advisory council' comprising the top economists of the country.

He opposed the government’s move to keep the scope for whitening black money in the new budget as he thinks it is an injustice to law-abiding and honest citizens.

The BNP leader also criticised the government for what he said extreme mismanagement in the banking sector and increase in the number of loan defaulters.

“The country and the economy must be freed from the clutches of defaulters. We need to restore order in the banking system,” the BNP secretary general said.

Source: United News of Bangladesh