As much as $5 billion is sent out of Bangladesh every year by foreign nationals working mostly in the export-oriented garment industry, said Finance Minister AMA Muhith.
“This $5 billion is taken mostly by Indians, Sri Lankans and nationals from our neighbourhood,” he said at a discussion on Friday on the budget for fiscal 2018-19.
Private television channel Maasranga and the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry jointly organised the event at the capital's International Convention City Bashundhara.
Businesses, economists, politicians and analysts from various sectors spoke at the programme, which was broadcasted live. Muhith, who will unveil the national budget for 12th time as a finance minister, said the issue of skills development has got the highest importance in the pre-budget discussions that took place over the last couple of months.
To enhance the skills of Bangladesh's human resources, the government took a project in 2011 under the finance ministry. There are 7-8 schemes under the project and the finance ministry provides funds to implement them.
Even though the schemes were established with a definite result in mind, they cannot bring the desired outcome in all cases. In this regard, Muhith mentioned the outflow of remittance from the country.
“It is true that we get quite a good amount of remittances from abroad. But $5 billion is also sent out of our country as remittance every year.”
The money is taken by foreigners in the absence of adequate human resources for conducting negotiations and marketing of Bangladesh's apparel abroad.
The government took a project after noticing the remittance outflow and devised a course to develop skilled resources for the garment industry with the help of some industries and selected an institute to run the course.
In response to a request from MCCI President Nihad Kabir to reduce supplementary duty on hybrid and electric cars, Muhith said: “Electric cars are our future, so we have to do something for facilitating their imports.”
At the same time, the general public must tone down their fascination for second-hand cars.
“The number of new cars has declined. You can actually count the number of new cars. This has attracted my attention and I will do something to change the situation.” The finance minister said the budget is likely to be about Tk 4.60 lakh crore.
Of the outlay, Tk 1.80 lakh crore has been earmarked for the annual development programme, and priority will be given to education, health and social services for human development.
But energy, power and transport sectors will get the highest allocation out of the total outlay.
Education will get the fourth highest allocation next fiscal year, he said, adding that focus would also be given to help the 3 crore poverty-stricken people.
“There is no plan to do anything new in the upcoming national budget in view of the national election at the end of the year.”