Govt takes austerity to field level
In face of growing pressure on the country's economy, the government issued strict directives to field-level administration to practise austerity while spending from the budget allocation.
"The allocated money must be spent maintaining austerity subject to compliance with the government's financial and administrative rules," reads a public administration ministry directive issued to all upazila and district administrations last week.
The directive was published on the ministry's website yesterday.
The public administration ministry has also directed that field-level administration will in no way be allowed to spend additional money surpassing the amount allocated for them in the national budget for 2022-23.
The directive came days after similar instructions were issued by the finance ministry.
On the first working day of this fiscal year on July 3, the finance ministry in three notices rolled out a "cocktail of austerity measures" for all ministries and divisions, saying following those directives can save about Tk 60,000 crore.
The instructions came after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on June 29 urged everyone to practise austerity.
The public administration ministry in its directive said expenditures cannot go unabated and field-level administrations cannot go on spending sprees at the end of the fiscal year.
If there is confusion regarding budget allocation, the field-level administrations have to consult with the public administration ministry before they spend from the budget.
In the directive, the public administration ministry also said field-level administrations need to pay electricity bills timely.
In case of outstanding electricity bills, they have to explain the reasons to the ministry.
The government stance comes in the face of strained foreign currency reserves, rising global and domestic inflation and continued jitters surrounding the Russia-Ukraine war.
According to the finance ministry directive, no vehicles, aircraft, helicopters, ships, boats or barges can be purchased by the government, semi-government, autonomous and statutory bodies as well as state-owned enterprises and financial institutions or under any development projects until further notice.
In the budget for fiscal 2022-23, Tk 8,080 crore has been allocated for this overhead, down 1.6 percent from the just-concluded fiscal year.
Institutions can spend their allocations only for emergency and essential needs.
Even then, they can spend at most 50 percent of the amount allotted.
About Tk 17,000 crore can be saved as a result, according to the budget document.
No honorarium can be given for attending meetings of project implementation committee, project steering committee, departmental project evaluation committee and departmental special project evaluation committee.
In the budget for this fiscal year, Tk 619 crore has been allocated for honorarium and special expenses, down 27.3 percent from fiscal 2021-22.
Besides, the government also suspended implementation of low-priority projects for the time being.
In the 2022-2023 fiscal year's budget, Tk 82,745 crore has been earmarked for subsidy which is nearly double the original allocation of the last fiscal year.
Finance ministry officials said due to global price hike of different commodities including fuel, fertilisers and LNG, the government's subsidy in the current fiscal could be even higher.
As a result, the government has to take an all-out austerity measure, they said.