The government appears to have paid heed to the growing calls for a bigger health budget, with its allocation from the annual development programme soaring 28.92 per cent next fiscal year, the highest amongst the 12 sectors.
Next fiscal year, some Tk 13,033 crore has been allocated to the health sector that is bursting at the seams with the escalating caseloads from the Tk 205,145 crore ADP approved by the National Economic Council (NEC) yesterday.
Of the money going to the health sector, Tk 4,282 crore would come from the external sources. The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have each approved $100 million to aid the government to meet the growing expenditure in the sector. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is also providing finances for the health sector.
The agriculture sector saw the second-highest allocation growth of 26.43 per cent. The government set aside Tk 8,382 crore for fiscal 2020-21, up from Tk 6,524 crore this year.
The highest allocation went to the transport sector, which received Tk 52,183 crore, or 25.44 per cent of the ADP.
"The prime minister has said if the health and agriculture ministries seek more funds, the government would be ready to provide," Planning Minister MA Mannan told reporters yesterday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal and Mannan attended the NEC meeting through video-conferencing from Gonobhaban, the official residence of the premier, because of the social-distancing measures put in place by the government to stop the spread of the virus.
The rest of the members of the cabinet took part from the auditorium of the NEC in Agargaon.
The ADP came as Bangladesh continues to face significant health care challenges in combating the coronavirus pandemic.
The health system is underdeveloped and underfunded, with only 9.9 doctors, nurses and midwives and 8.8 hospital beds per 10,000 people, while current health expenditure is only 2.4 per cent of GDP, said the Asian Development Bank recently.
The physical planning, water supply and housing sector received the second-highest allocation of Tk 25,795 crore, or 12.57 per cent of the ADP.
The electricity sector accounted for 12.09 per cent of the allocation, the education and religion sector 11.40 per cent, the science and ICT sector 8.99 per cent and the rural development sector 7.58 per cent.
The top 10 sectors account for 93.19 per cent of the allocation.
The next ADP is only 6.34 per cent higher than the current one to record the lowest growth at least since fiscal 2011-12, as the government directs resources to jumpstart the economy battered by the global pandemic.
The NEC approved the ADP for 1,584 projects. Besides, it gave consent to 89 projects of state-run enterprises and corporations involving Tk 9,466 crore.
Of the ADP, Tk 134,643 crore would be financed through own resources, up 2.84 per cent from the revised ADP for this fiscal year. The remainder Tk 70,502 crore would be funded by external sources, up 13.71 per cent.