Roundup: Bangladesh unveils 71-bln-USD national budget on digital economy, cashless society

By Karim
  • World
  • Friday, 02 Jun 2023

by Naim-Ul-Karim

DHAKA, June 1 (Xinhua) -- The Bangladeshi government on Thursday unveiled a record 7.62-trillion-taka (71-billion-U.S. dollar) national budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year starting in July.

The government projected an economic growth of 7.5 percent in the annual budget.

With a focus on tackling inflation, job creation, the fourth industrial revolution and "Smart Bangladesh," Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal presented to the parliament the budget of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government.

"On the whole, we expect to return to higher growth trajectory and achieve a 7.5-percent GDP growth in the coming fiscal year, by way of investing in the productive sectors and stimulating productivity and domestic demand," Kamal said during the budget speech in the parliament.

As the total size of the expenditure budget has been estimated at 7.62 trillion taka, the outlay is 15.2 percent of the South Asian country's gross domestic product (GDP).

"To achieve the growth target, we will gradually come out of the contractionary policy and invest in ongoing and new growth-inducing projects including the mega-projects," Kamal said.

For this purpose, the minister said the budget of the next fiscal year has set a higher target of raising the public investment to 6.3 percent of GDP.

He said the government is committed to containing the rising trend of inflation by addressing inconsistencies between supply and demand.

According to the budget proposal, Bangladesh is targeting an average inflation rate of 6.5 percent in the next fiscal year.

Kamal said there has been a recent spike in prices, mainly due to external factors.

Although inflationary pressure increased due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the government has been making an all-out effort to check the inflation and mitigate its impact on the people, the minister added.

"Due to the decrease in the prices of fuel, food and fertilizer in the global market, along with the adjustment of fuel prices in the domestic market and government initiatives to keep the food and supply systems normal, the inflation will remain much controlled in the next fiscal year, and the annual average inflation is expected to stand at around 6 percent," he said.

Amid geopolitical risks, Kamal said the total outlay of the proposed budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year is up by 12.34 percent over that of the original budget of the outgoing fiscal year.

According to the proposal, the overall budget deficit will be 2.58 trillion taka, which is 5.2 percent of GDP.

Kamal said the total estimated revenue will be over 5 trillion taka.

On the expenditure side, he said, the size of Annual Development Program (ADP) for the next fiscal year will be 2.78 trillion taka with transport, power, infrastructure, rural development and education sectors getting the biggest chunk of money.

This is the largest-ever budget for Bangladesh, a long way from the first budget of 7.86 billion taka (73 million dollars) for the 1972-73 fiscal year.

The theme of the budget has been shaped by the idea of "Smart Bangladesh", envisioning a 100-percent digital economy, science and technology-based literacy, and a paperless and cashless society. (1 U.S. dollar equals 107.2 taka)

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