Muhith doubtful of reaching GDP growth target

Citing looming uncertainties in the country’s political scenario, Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Sunday expressed his doubt about reaching the GDP growth target of 7.2 percent in the current fiscal year (2012-13).“We may not reach the targeted GDP growth…we shall not be able to reach the growth rate of 7.2 percent and also the export and import growths,” he said in his introductory speech in a pre-budget meeting with the Secretaries of different Ministries and Divisions at the NEC conference room in city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in the afternoon.
Muhith, however, said that the growth rate might be a bit higher than that of 6.4 percent achieved in the last fiscal (2011-12).
Mentioning that the overall performance of the country’s economy remained more or less stable as there was not much ups and downs, he said that uncertainties are still there especially in the domestic front amid the Saturday’s Long March and rally in the capital by Hefazat-e-Islam.
The Finance Minister also informed the Secretaries that their Ministry-wise allocation in the next fiscal will not increase much as a major allocation will go for the Padma Bridge project, which is a matter of pride.
He said there will not be much of difference on the priorities of the next budget with highest emphasis on power and energy, agriculture, rural development, human resource development, social security, transport and communication. “But, allocations do not always reflect the actual necessity,”
Citing bright prospect of the power sector, Muhith hoped that the country will witness a power production of 9,000 MW by 2016-17 which is expected to eliminate the power crisis. “But, problems still remain in energy resources and we still remain far below the targets,”
In this regard, he noted that the government is still behind in the exploration of gas and extraction of coal as the ‘coal policy’ is yet to be finalized.
The Finance Minister informed that the government will introduce district budget from the next year, with allocation likely for Tangail  in addition to one or two more districts on experimental basis.
Besides, he said, there will be gender sensitive budget for 40 Ministries and Divisions apart from placing separate statements on power and energy, poverty indicator, social safety nets and Digital Bangladesh.
He also informed that the government is looking forward to clear all the arrears of subsidies in the next fiscal through making payments.
About the revenue collection target in the next budget, Muhith said there will be some increase but not very much. He also informed that the government plans to introduce a rule of automatic adjustment of pricing in the energy sector and hopefully, will be able to do so.
He said although inflation is under control, but still there is upward pressure because of the price-hike in rice. He also informed that export target alongside import will be reduced in the next year while target for wage earners remittance inflow will increase.
Reiterating his claim that no corruption had taken place in the Padma Bridge project, Muhith affirmed again that the government will fund the project out of its own resources, which is the fastest and cheapest way of implementing the project.
He said that some Tk 2,300 crore will be spent in the Padma project by the current fiscal year on land acquisition and settlement. “I’m absolutely certain there is no scope for any kind of corruption in the Padma project.”
The Finance Minister also said that a separate foreign currency account will be set up at the Bangladesh Bank for the Padma project while the government is also planning to go for issuing sovereign bonds.
He noted that the government had earlier decided not to take fund from the World Bank for the Padma Project as the funding issue had been poisoning the relationship between the government and the lending agency.
Muhith directed the Secretaries to be prepared in spending the funds due for the newly approved projects under the revised ADP so that the projects are implemented properly in the next year.
He also hinted that there might be some fund for ensuring development of the people of haor region and char lands. UNB

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