Public procurement law to be amended:Says finance minister; seeks more time to improve power situation

The government is going to bring fresh amendments to the Public Procurement Act, which was made to bring transparency in government expenditure under donors’ pressure.

“Public Procurement Regulation (Now Public Procurement Act) is an impediment to implementation of government’s development programmes including those in power sector… So, it would be revised,” Finance Minister AMA Muhith said yesterday at a pre-budget discussion with Economic Reporters’ Forum (ERF).

Muhith also said he approved yesterday a Tk 243-crore ‘arrear’ cash incentive in export sector as part of the bailout package to face the impact of global recession.

“We took a decision in this regard in the March 24 taskforce meeting, and today (Monday) we approved it. It shows that we tried to respond quickly to the problem,” the finance minister said at the discussion held at the NEC auditorium.

The ERF members came up with various recommendations for the next fiscal year’s budget.

In response, Muhith said, “Our most problematic sector is power. Development of non-farm sector is talked about much, but first we need power to attain development in any sector.

“Many poles are standing tall, but we are unable to supply power. I don’t know when we make power available. Earlier, it was thought that (required) power supply could be ensured in three years. But now it is clear it is not possible. More time is needed.”

He mentioned that the government would give more emphasis on increased investment in power sector.

Planning Commission officials present at the discussion said they have already sought opinion from different ministries on amending the PPR.

Meanwhile, the PPR was made in 2003 when the BNP-led four-party alliance was in power to meet the WB condition for development credit support. Many of the then ministers and top government officials strongly opposed it.

Muhith said proper steps would be taken in the current boro season to ensure that farmers get fair price of their produce.

Turning to the impact of global meltdown, the minister said revenue collection in the current fiscal year may be Tk 400 crore less than the targeted Tk 54,500 crore. And implementation of the Tk 25,600 crore ADP may be 10 per cent less.

“The size of the next budget is estimated to be Tk 99,962 crore. In the revised budget, the figure may stand at Tk 95,000 crore to Tk 96,000 crore.” Muhith said.

They are formulating the budget in light of their election manifesto, and would increase allocations for subsidies, social safety net and agriculture sector, he added.

The prime minister’s Finance and Planning Adviser Moshiur Rahman said Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics would be strengthened further to help formulate right policies.

Finance Secretary Mohammad Tareq said wide gap between rural areas and urban areas in secondary education has to be closed down for implementing the government’s politics of change.

NBR Chairman Mohammad Abdul Mazid and Planning Commission Member AKM Zafar Ullah Khan were among the high officials present.

Soruce: The Daily Star, 31 March 2009


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