PM Hasina seeks help for implementing ‘pro-people budget’

Dhaka, June 14 – Terming the budget “pro-people” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the Tk 5,23,190 crore outlay for FY2019-20 is pretty self-explanatory and there is no scope of confusion.
“We prepared the budget for our common people, not for the researchers who don’t find good in anything,” said PM Hasina while addressing the post budget press conference at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC).
In a rare instance, Hasina appeared before such press conference for the first time as Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal is ill.
Finance Minister Kamal earlier unveiled the proposed budget for FY 2019-20 in parliament on Thursday. The finance minister usually takes questions at the official media call, held a day after the proposed national budget is presented in the House.
However, the Prime Minister Hasina stepped in on his behalf yesterday and took questions from the journalists after she read out a summary of the proposed budget.
Replying a question of a journalist who referred criticisms made by different research organizations on the national budget, PM Hasina said, there are some people who find fault in everything as this is a kind of mental sickness.
Independent think-tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) earlier in the morning in its reaction said the proposed budget only favors the “beneficiaries of economic mismanagement” and the affluent portion of the country.
“There are some people who have mental sickness and they like nothing. When a democratic system exists and development is achieved they don’t see anything good in that. It’s a kind of mental sickness,” she said.
Questioning the research work and contributions of CPD to the country, Hasina said, “They have to say something which is fine. Yet despite voicing all this criticism, they will say, ‘we are not allowed to talk.’ They suffer from this condition. It’s almost like a sickness.”
She went on saying, “Those who want to criticize, let them do it…if they say anything good, we’ll accept that, if they say anything bad, we’ll reject it.”
According to the prime minister, the response of ordinary people to the budget is the government’s only concern. “To me, what is important is to see if ordinary people are happy and are being benefitted by the national budget.”
Hasina stressed that the new budget is her government’s eleventh and said, “The benefits of our initiatives are reaching the people. And those who are part of the unhappy party won’t find anything positive here.”
“Our target is to make the country free from poverty and achieve development…we’re working to this end…Bangladesh is no longer a country of beggars,” said the Prime Minister.
Hasina said her government has planned to increase Bangladesh’s GDP growth to 10 percent in the 2023-24 fiscal year.
To achieve the double digit GDP rate in FY2023-24, the GDP growth rate in the proposed budget has been projected to be 8.2 percent for FY2019-20; as the GDP growth rate has been consistently high over the last decade.
Labeling the national budget of FY2019-20 the biggest ever in Bangladesh’s history, PM Hasina said the target of the budget is to implement the election manifesto of her government.
Her government also aims to create 30 million jobs in the country by 2030, she said.
Emphasizing the importance of the education sector, Sheikh Hasina said this sector will be prioritized in the next fiscal year. The government has also allocated Tk 25,732 crore for the health sector in the proposed budget.
The prime minister also said Bangladesh leads South Asian countries in eliminating gender disparity.
Replying to a journalist’s query who pointed out the alarming situation of bank loan defaulters, the PM said the government would tighten the clasp on willful loan defaulters.
“We will take stern action against the willful loan defaulters to bring discipline to the financial sector,” Hasina said.
Replying another query in which she was asked whether her government will be able to fulfill the pledge of providing employment opportunities to three crore people by 2030, Hasina said, providing employment to people doesn’t necessarily mean “giving government jobs.”
“We have already created lots of employment opportunities for our people. In the countryside, you saw that there weren’t people available to cut the paddies in recent time. It showed that we have created opportunities for our people,” she said. – Staff Reporter