Hinting that the next national budget of around Taka 4,75,000 crore for FY19 will be placed before the Jatiya Sangsad on June 7, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith today said it is necessary to think about putting an end to the loan default culture in the country.
“Now it’s time to think about this because default culture has continued somehow and such strong efforts were not taken to put an end to it,” he said while speaking at a pre-budget meeting with the country’s renowned economists and professionals held at the NEC conference room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.
Renewed economists Prof Rehman Sobhan, former finance minister Dr M Sayeduzzaman, former Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Mohammad Farashuddin, Dr Debapriyo Bhattacharjee, Dr Mustafizur Rahman, Chairman of Industrial and Infrastructural Development Finance Company Limited (IIDFC) M Matiul Islam, former Finance Secretary Dr Mohammad Tareque, Prof Khandoker Bazlul Haque, Fahmida Khatun, former Secretary Siddiqur Rahman, Atiqul Islam of North South University, Ifty Islam of AT Capital attended the meeting.
State Minister for Finance and Planning MA Mannan and secretaries concerned were also present at the meeting.
Referring to the suggestion from Prof Rehman Sobhan not to give exemption to the loan defaulters during the election, Muhith said, “This time I can ensure that this won’t happen. Definitely it won’t happen.”
He also backed the proposal of giving reward or imposing penalty for cost and time overrun of development projects adding that the situation in project approval and implementation has improved a lot over the years while backlog of projects is not a serious issue right now.
Responding to the suggestion from renowned economist Dr Debapriyo Bhattacharjee for creating an SDG Trust Fund, Muhith said the government can think about it.
Turning to the current situation at the country’s premier bourse Dhaka Stock Exchange, the Minister alleged that a vested quarter is trying to catch fish in the dirty water.
He, however, was hopeful of reaching a solution of this problem by the weekend with the return of Prime Minister from abroad.
Talking about the huge burden on Bangladesh with the influx of forcibly displaced Rohingya nationals, Muhith said this is a very big pressure right at the moment on the country while the international community is also trying to help Bangladesh.
The Finance Minister said human development, health, sanitation, and education would continue to enjoy higher emphasis in the next budget like the previous years.
“But, in terms of allocation, transport and energy will get the highest allocation,” he added.
The speakers suggested for raising the Advanced Deposit Ratio by the Bangladesh Bank, addressing the structural problem of the banking and the financial sector, addressing the ongoing problem of cost and time over run in the major and small development projects, attracting more investment in materializing the targets of Vision 2021 and Vision 2041.
The economists and professionals also suggested for raising the FDI, ensuring very effective supervision for roads maintenance, further improving the quality of education, addressing income disparity, launching one stop service for attracting FDI, and keep maintaining the discipline of the budget.
Terming the placement of the next budget as a legacy budget for the Finance Minister, eminent economist Prof Rehman Sobhan said the economy of Bangladesh has done exceedingly very well in many ways including in the macroeconomic performance and human development indicators.
Former Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Farashuddin suggested for accommodating some mega sized textile industries in the countrywide Special Economic Zones to boost strong backward and forward linkages for the RMG industry.