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Yet another big budget on the cards

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02nd-Jun-2018       
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Kazi Zahidul Hasan :
The government is set to unveil another big budget for the financial year 2018-19, with focus on human resource development and education, infrastructure, healthcare and agriculture.
The budget is likely to project GDP growth rate at 7.8 percent for the next fiscal.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith will present the budget in the parliament on Thursday.
This will be the country's 47th budget and the 18th of the Awami League government while the 12th for Muhith.
Tajuddin Ahmed, country's first finance minister, presented the first one in 1972, with Tk 786 crore expenditure plan.
The size of the upcoming fiscal's budget, as hinted by Finance Minister AMA Muhith, is likely to be around Tk 4,68,200 lakh crore, 17 percent higher than the size of the current fiscal's original budget of Tk 4,00,266 lakh crore.
"We won't keep any ambitious target in the next national budget for FY19 as it will be an election year. The tentative figures for the budget is around Tk 4,60,000 crore to Tk 4,75,000 crore," he told   
 a pre-budget meeting with the members of four parliamentary standing committees recently.
The revenue collection target would be fixed at Tk 340,000 crore in the next fiscal year leaving a deficit of Tk 1,28,200 crore, which is 5.0 percent of the GDP.
As per the draft budgetary outlines, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) would mobilize Tk 294,000 crore of the targeted amount. The target of the non-tax revenue collection would be fixed Tk 33,112 crore and non-NBR taxes at Tk 11,462 crore.
"The NBR's revenue collection target for the next fiscal would go up by over 30 percent and this tall target may emerge as key challenge for the government in the next fiscal," former NBR chairman Dr MA Mazid told The New Nation.    
He said VAT will be a key source of the government's revenue generation, but collection from other sectors may not go up as expected due to sluggish economic activities in an election year.        
To finance the deficit budget, a total of Tk 59,200 crore would be sourced from banking system, Tk 30,000 crore from savings certificates and Tk 38,000 crore from external borrowing.
In the new budget, Tk 2,88,200 crore would be earmarked for non-development expenditure. A large portion of the non-development budget (Tk 66,200 crore) will be spent on salaries, allowances and pension benefit of government employees and government's interest payment on internal and foreign borrowing (Tk 51,300).
The government earlier approved Tk 1,80,869.17 crore Annual Development Programme (ADP) for the next fiscal (2018-19), with more emphasis on speeding up the implementation of mega projects.
Mega projects are likely to get Tk 29,675 crore allocation in the upcoming budget.
"The government is set to place another big budget aiming at a higher GDP growth and boosting investment. The budget will place highest importance in human resource development and education followed by power and energy, infrastructure, agriculture, rural development and employment generation," State Minister of Finance and Planning M A Mannan told The New Nation yesterday.
He said the government would fix spending priorities to these key sectors in the upcoming budget with a view to attaining a higher economic growth.
"Though it's an election year budget, the government will accommodate plans and policies to woo voters in line with election campaign. At the same time, it will also frame fiscal policies in addition to introduce reforms in tax policies to achieve revenue and GDP growth target, keep inflation at low and boost private sector investment," said MA Mannan.
When asked, he said, "The government is likely to reduce corporate tax, increase threshold of personal income tax, widen social safety-net programme and take many other populist measures in the next budget."
Regarding the Awami League government's economic success, MA Mannan said, "We have turn around the economy of Bangladesh in the last nine years through various measures. Such measures also put the economy on the path of a higher growth trajectory and sustainability."    

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