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‘Budget failed to reflect public expectations’

11 June 2021

Business Desk :
Speakers at a discussion on Thursday said the proposed budget blatantly failed to reflect the people's expectations, because of bureaucratic influence shaping it.
The government paid no heed to the interests of the people, the budget being fully focused on ensuring facilities for bureaucrats.
At the post-budget discussion, "2021-22 National Budget in the Eyes of Conscious Citizens," Gonoshasthaya Kendra Founder, Dr Zafrullah, presented the keynote speech. Former caretaker government advisor, Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman was the chief guest, and economist Reza Kibria, the guest of honour.
Addressing the function, Dr Zafrullah said the lion's share of the budget allocated for government employees, and the common people were completely overlooked.
Though the salaries of government employees have been increased in the budget, they nevertheless engage in various types of corruption and irregularities, he said.
Dr Zafrullah cited a recent study to describe that about 65% of government officials use their official vehicles for commercial purposes. In some cases, they are taking additional vehicles from government depots for personal use.  
Noting that no difference can now be noticed between the governance of Dhaka and Islamabad (pre and post independence), he laid emphasis on the decentralising of power in order to establish good governance and democracy.
The Gonoshasthaya Kendra had to wait eight months to get permission to launch a PCR testing service since it did not bribe or submit to extortion, he alleged, saying that such practices should be stamped out.
Apart from that, the veteran physician proposed initiating a ration plan for the poor, fully free of cost or at nominal cost.
The chief guest, economist Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman advocated focusing on agriculture and small businesses, instead of GDP growth.
He said, "GDP growth is not compatible with or reflective of a healthy trickle down economy. GDP as a measure of growth has been much debated and in many ways it does not mirror reality. Agriculture and small businesses drive our economy and what is allocated for this, should be discussed."
Referring to country farmers as resilient, the former caretaker government advisor said, "Agriculture has kept us afloat even in the pandemic, but it is not given adequate attention and importance in the budget."
He also questioned why the government did not have specific plans and data during the pandemic.
Dr Hossain Zillur noted that allocation and implementation were at odds in the health sector.
"The government took steps to reduce health spending between 2012 and 2032, but by 2021, health expenditure seems to have increased. According to government figures, allocations are increasing, but implementation is declining," he observed, saying that new areas of growth should be developed to fulfill the goal of being a high-income country.
Speaking on the proposed budget, Economist Dr Reza Kibria alleged that the finance minister protected the interests of a particular group in the budget.
He slammed the lower allocation for the education sector and said the minister should have made a reasonable allocation to the sector as students have already suffered a lot.

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