The proposed budget has been framed without taking the sustainable development goals (SDGs) into consideration, according to the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem).
“If we want to achieve the SDGs we must integrate our budgets with the goals,” Selim Raihan, executive director of the think-tank, said at a programme at Brac Centre Inn in Dhaka yesterday. He made the observations while presenting the Sanem's second quarterly economic review of the year.
In 2015, some 193 countries adopted the SDGs, which have to be achieved by 2030. The agenda includes 17 goals and 169 associated targets.
Unlike the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs will have to be attained by the countries on their own, which would be a big challenge for resource-constraint countries like Bangladesh.
According to an estimate of the Planning Commission, Bangladesh needs a total $928 billion, or $62 billion a year, to achieve the SDGs.
“We have only 12 years, so we will have to work hard to meet the goals,” said Raihan.
The think-tank recommended integrating every budget in the coming years with the SDGs.
On the proposed budget, the Sanem said it believes the size of the outlay is not big compared to the size of the economy, but the problem lies in the implementation.
Raihan said the economy was able to grow at more than 7 percent even with only 80 percent implementation of the budget. So, the ministries do not feel encouraged to implement the budget effectively, he said.
The Sanem stressed quality spending and a boost in revenue collection.
Raihan found nothing in the budget that can boost the efficiency of the tax administration.
As it is an election year, the government has to be cautious so that funds are not wasted, according to the review.
In the budget, the finance minister has targeted to achieve 30.8 percent growth in revenue collection without taking any reform initiatives in the administration, according to the Sanem.
Moreover, there was no hint in the budget that the implementation of the new VAT law would begin in 2019.
The Sanem said the size of the annual development programme (ADP) is rising and this is essential for the country.
But the ADP must prioritise the country's needs and the government should ensure proper implementation.
The review said mismanagement in the ADP implementation in the last few months of a fiscal year creates substandard infrastructure that cannot attract investment.
The government will also have to ensure accountability in the implementation of the ADP, said the Sanem.
It said time and cost overrun of the mega projects also creates stagnancy in their implementation.
“We had expected an indicative statement from the finance minister in the budget about the implementation of the mega projects. But because of the absence of any statement we cannot realise the present situation of the projects.”
The Sanem recommended taking initiatives to avoid indiscipline in the financial sector and create investment-friendly climate and jobs.