Expressing concern over mobilisation of funds to implement the fiscal budget in this situation, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday asked all to exercise austerity in spending public money.
“This’s true we’ve given a huge budget…it’s not correct to think we’ll spend all the money right now. This is also a question how much money we’ll be able to provide. So, we’ll keep the expenditures except the very essential ones on hold temporarily reducing the expenses to some extent. We’ll do these (less important expenditures) things when the good days will come back,” she said.
The Prime Minister said this while addressing the inaugural event of the Armed Forces Selection Board-2020 through a videoconference from her official residence Ganobhaban.
The chiefs of the three services and other high officials got connected from their respective headquarters.
About implementation of the national budget 2020-21, Hasina said though it was passed to chase the government’s development targets, it might not be possible to implement it fully if the worldwide economic recession continues or worsen further.
“We might not do so (implement the budget fully) if the worldwide downturn continues or worsens. But we don’t want to fall behind (the target) fearing in advance that we won’t be able to do it. We’ll have all the arrangements and preparations. We’ll do as much as we can. It’s our target,” she said.
Hasina said the government placed this budget as it has a target to make Bangladesh a poverty-free country in the Mujib Borsha (Mujib Year).
She said the government had a target of 8.2 percent GDP growth in the last fiscal year and 7.8 percent growth was also achieved till April last, but it finally came down to 5.8 percent at the end of the last fiscal year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Even then, Hasina added, the government has continued its efforts and extended support to different sectors as much as possible. “So, we’ve not made less allocation in the budget.”
“In the case of expenditures, all will have to spend (from the allocations) in a limited way…. we’ll have to calculate right now how much money we’ll be able to collect and spend in this economic situation. I would like to ask all even our Armed Forces – three services—to do so.”
The Prime Minister said though there was an apprehension that the country’s reserve of foreign currency declined, now it has increased to US$ 39.4 billion.
Bangladesh also receives enough remittance. The government provides incentive for inward remittance, she said, mentioning various stimulus packages announced for different sectors.
“We all will have to be economical and no small piece of land should remain uncultivated,” Hasina said.
Talking about food security, the Prime Minister assured that Bangladesh will face no food crisis as the government has taken all sorts of measures for increased food production in the country.
The government has taken measures to provide subsidy and all sorts of assistance to the agriculture sector to ascertain the food production, she said adding that now Bangladesh is the second largest freshwater fish producer and third largest rice producer in the world.
Alongside measures for food production, the government continues providing support to different sectors from the stimulus packages announced to revive economic activities, she said.
About the Armed Forces, the Prime Minister said the government has been modernising the forces keeping eyes on everything – the protection of country’s sovereignty, defence of airspace and huge sea area.
She said the government also set up specialized educational institutes so that the members of the armed forces can get all sorts of training.
Hasina said the government wants to develop a modern armed force equipped with latest knowledge with the view that the members of the forces are to work under UN peacekeeping missions.
Over promotion of armed force officers, the Prime Minister asked the selection board members to promote the qualified officers in justified way.
Sheikh Hasina said the officers who are patriotic and believe in the spirit of the Liberation War should get the responsibility in the future to take Bangladesh forward in the right way .
PM’s Security Adviser Maj Gen (retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddique, PM’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, Principal Staff Officer of the Armed Forces Division Lt Gen Mahfuzur Rahman and PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim were present at Ganobhaban.