Md. Joynal Abdin
The Daily Star on May 13, 2010
THE Awami League-led government is going to place its second budget in its current tenure. Last year, we saw the largest budget in our history. But the question is how much has our standard of living been raised. The people are passing through a difficult time due to the energy crisis. There has been no improvement in electricity and gas supply. Law and order situation has not improved either.
Although there has been a steady flow of remittances from Bangladeshis working abroad no effective government initiative has been made to expand the job market to sustain foreign exchange earnings from the source.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Bangladesh is one of the lowest in the world. This is because Bangladesh is yet to put in place the required infrastructure to attract the FDI. The industries in the country are struggling to maintain production because of the energy crisis. They are facing up to 12 hours of electricity load-shedding everyday.
Traffic jam in Dhaka city is getting worse. One-fourth of working hours are wasted on the streets due to the traffic jams. Under such conditions how can Vision-2021 be achieved?
The price hike of essential goods during the current regime has beaten all past records. Ordinary people are spending 80 percent of their income on food and their savings are falling. The prices of commodities are rising illogically in the market when they are falling at farmers’ level. If farmers do not get fair prices for their products they will be discouraged from growing crops. So, the new budget should outline proper a price management mechanism for the sake of the farmers as well as the economy.
The budget is the most important development document of a country. Currently, our policy makers are working hard to finalise the next budget, which is likely to be placed in parliament by the finance minister on June 10.
While preparing the budget the policy makers must take into consideration the water crisis, and electricity and gas shortage. Special attention should be given to ensure water supply to every house in the cities. Uninterrupted electricity supply is the prerequisite for industrial development. Without it digital Bangladesh will remain a daydream.
Under the circumstances the government can consider compensating the factories affected by load shedding. Though factories remain idle during the load shedding period, wages, salaries and utility bills have to be paid by the owners. Specific budgetary measures have to be taken for increased FDI flow into Bangladesh.
Development projects to be taken up in next financial year should get highest priority for implementation. The government must also see that its political agenda does not get preference over development agendas, because the people want to have better living and see the dream of digital Bangladesh come true.