Cautious budget and fiscal policies and their proper implementation are needed for Bangladesh to become a higher-income country in just over two decades, said former Bangladesh Bank governor Atiur Rahman yesterday.
“Realising our potential, we need a prudent budget and efficient implementation of that budget,” said Rahman who teaches development studies at Dhaka University.
The country now has enormous growth potential and is well on track for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), mainly an outcome of the inclusive development policies the government pursued during the last decade or so, he added.
The remarks came at a pre-budget dialogue organised by the Campaign for Good Governance at BMA Bhaban in Dhaka.
He said the government has been allocating commendable shares of the national budget for sectors like education and health. However, these portions still remain lower than what are the global norms and hence must be increased.
“For example, Bangladesh ought to allocate 6 percent of its GDP for education and 3 percent of its GDP for health. This means that these shares deserve to be doubled,” said Rahman.
He also emphasised on going beyond just allocating resources and focusing more on quality spending of the allocations.
He also opined that Bangladesh has to improve its tax-GDP ratio if it intends to enhance its performance in public financing.
Bangladesh is currently under prudent and compassionate leadership, Rahman said, expressing hope that national budgets of coming fiscal years would reflect the prudence and compassion towards the masses.
Prof M Abu Eusuf of the Department of the Development Studies said strengthening fiscal and financial discipline to curb bad debt and nonperforming loans should be one of the priority areas of the upcoming budget.
It should also focus on generating employment opportunities and tackling income inequality with particular focus on addressing regional divergence, he said.
“…and implementation of budget remains a major challenge,” said Eusuf who is also the executive director of the Research and Policy Integration for Development.
Lawmaker Shirin Akhter emphasised on presenting a district-wise budget so that the civil society and general people could better track the quality of public expenditure.
Ruhin Hossain Prince, a central leader of the Communist Party of Bangladesh, also spoke.