Over the last 50 years of Bangladesh’s existence, we have seen many finance ministers. AMA Muhith was among those few who this nation will remember for making the job appear joyful and free from the pains of balancing difficult trade-offs amid resource constraints.
Inflation is rising in Bangladesh as it is in several advanced and emerging economies. Increased headline inflation in February was driven by a spike in food inflation. The 12-month moving average inflation has been on an upward trend since the November 2019 to October 2020 period.
The economic damage from supply disruptions triggered by the confluence of events around the Russian invasion of Ukraine would be severe in some countries and industries and less so in others depending on the depth and breadth of economic ties,
Consumer price growth has spiked, driven by non-food inflation which is approaching 7 per cent. Inflation in Bangladesh is catching up with global trends. As in the case of the rest of the world, cost-push has been the most important driver which in turn came from increases in energy prices.
Corporate Bangladesh is increasingly demanding the easing of draconian restrictions on outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) as they seek to diversify earnings. Indeed, OFDI can yield financial, intangible capability, and tangible capacity returns, thus complementing the development benefits realised through trade, migration and inward FDI.
While the pandemic waves on, the budget should focus on crisis management, prioritising spending on health, targeting fiscal support to distressed families and enterprises, restoring the functionality of education, and building on the resilience demonstrated by agriculture while keeping an eye on revenues. A business-as-usual budget like last year will miss the boat again.
In-person schooling in Bangladesh has remained shut since March 2020. Children have already lost a full year, equivalent to 0.6 learning-adjusted years of schooling based on the learning gap implied by the World Bank (WB) in its Human Capital Index (2020) for Bangladesh.