Economists suggest ‘flexible’ budget for next fiscal year

Economists yesterday advised the government to adopt a flexible budget for the next fiscal year so it could include priorities later to safeguard the economy from the impacts of the global economic crisis.

At a pre-budget consultation meeting with Finance Minister AMA Muhith, the economists also advised the government to review the budget quarterly and do “everything possible” to keep domestic demand up.

“Now flexibility is more important than discipline in the budget. It could help reset priorities,” Prof Wahiduddin Mahmud told the meeting at the National Economic Council.

“Uncertainty is looming (over the economy),” said Prof Mahmud. No budget was prepared in the country’s history under such uncertainty, he added.

“The budget must be flexible to the highest extent.”

Muhith chaired the discussion designed to take opinions from the economists to lay out the next fiscal year’s budget. Dr Mashiur Rahman, prime minister’s economic adviser, was also present.

Economists raised different issues, including the whitening of black money, implementation of annual development programme, resource mobilisation, revenue collections, subsidy and domestic demand.

“There should be flexibility in the next budget so it can adopt policies based on global economic changes,” said Mustafa K Mujeri, former chief economist of the central bank.

Former finance secretary Dr Zakir Khan echoed him. “Flexibility in the budget will help adopt a mechanism, if necessary.”

Former finance minister M Syeduzzaman said the budget should be reviewed quarterly.

On the whitening of black money, Syeduzzaman said it should go through the banking channel.

Prof Wahiduddin Mahmud said legalising “black money” would not add additional money because it is already in use.

On domestic demand, Prof Mahmud said: “The budget should be target-based and employment-oriented.”

Source: The Daily Star, 03 April 2009


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