Fall in Bangladesh’s export, govt expenditure a big concern: CPD

Dhaka, Feb 15 (UNB): Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a civil society think tank, has said the decline in government’s expenditure and fall in export have been the major concerns and discomfort for the country’s economy.
The CPD came up with the observations while presenting an assessment report titled ‘State on the Bangladesh Economy in FY2020-21 (First Reading)’ on Monday.
The virtual function was addressed, among others, by CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun, Distinguished Fellow Dr Mustafizur Rahman, and Research Director Dr Golam Moazzem. Its Senior Research Fellow Tawfiqur Islam Khan presented the keynote paper.
The CPD said public expenditure fell by a large amount during the first four months of FY2021 compared to the pre-Covid situation.
It found a substantial fall in development expenditure, with a 35.1 percent decline in annual development programme (ADP) expenditure compared to the corresponding period of FY2020.
Operational expenditure was also lower, the CPD said, adding, “This happens due to the needs triggered by pandemic.”
With a view to saving about Tk 33,661 crore from the ADP in FY2021, the Finance Division has allowed ministries and agencies to spend only 75 percent of the fund allocated by the government for ADP in FY2021, the CPD mentioned.
“The remaining 25 percent can’t be spent on operation under any circumstances,” it said adding that the rest 25 percent of the allocation has been put on hold since the Finance Division fears that it will be difficult to achieve the revenue target to achieve under the pandemic.
According to the CPD, export Bangladesh’s earnings declined by 16.9 percent and missed the growth target by a large margin of 12.2 percent.
“The volatility in export earnings continued during the FY2021,” the CPD observed adding that the total export earnings declined by (-) 1.1 percent during the July-January period of FY2021.
“This implies that the total export earnings will require to grow by 70.4 percent during the remainder of FY2021 if the annual growth target of 21.8 percent has to be reached,” it mentioned.
The CPD, however, made a positive observation that industrial production for large and medium industries increased by 7.7 percent during the July-October FY2021 period while the corresponding figure for FY2020 was 5.4 percent as per the BBS data.
Describing this scenario, Dr Mustafizur Rahman said the government should think of stimulating the domestic demands to overcome the setback in export as the global demand is unlikely to make a turnaround anytime soon.
There should be a second stimulus package by the government to promote the small and median industrial sectors, he said adding that the remittance inflow made a 38 percent growth but it is not normal as there is no data about remittance outflow.
Dr Farida Khaiun said the weak banks are a major area where the government should focus on for enhancing governance.
She also recommended that weakly-governed banks should not be allowed to distribute stimulus package fund as they would create further problem in the economy.
Dr Golam Moazzem said the government should give extra focus on food stocks as the global food market is volatile.
“Right now, our food reserve is 700,000 metric tons, which is about half of the required 1.5 million tons”, he said adding that local traders may now take advantage of the situation to create a crisis in rice market by raising prices.
He said the government should immediately raise the rice stock to 1 million metric tons through import on G-to-G basis.
The CPD appreciated the government’s vaccination programme and said Bangladesh economy is doing better compared to some other economies of the world.