Govt unveils Tk 34,358cr deficit budget

Net outlay Tk 1,13,819 crore, focus on industries, agriculture

Shakhawat Hossain

The finance minister, AMA Muhith, on Thursday proposed higher spending and fiscal measures aimed at spurring industrial growth and economic activities in the face of global recession as he placed in parliament the national budget worth Tk 1,13,819 crore for 2009-10 fiscal year.
   The first budget of the Awami League-led alliance government prioritised agriculture, rural development and human resources development, industry and trade and social safety net in line with the ruling party’s election pledges.
   ‘The budget for FY 2009-10 will be the first step towards our journey to realise the dreams enshrined in our Vision,’ he said in the parliament in absence of the major opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its allies.
   He said the budget is not just a statement of the government’s income and expenditure, but a vehicle to ensure growth, poverty reduction and commitment to achieving the macroeconomic fundamentals.
   However, the finance minister relied heavily on borrowing — which amounts to Tk 34,358 crore — to finance the ambitious annual development programme of Tk 30,500 crore and the newly introduced public-private partnership worth Tk 2100 crore.
   Some Tk 13,215 crore has been earmarked as loans and grants from the multilateral lenders and another Tk 20,555 crore from domestic sources to meet a record deficit of 5 per cent. The revenue generation target has been fixed at Tk 79,461 crore.
   Muhith, however, admitted that the proposed Annual Development Plan was quite ambitious and would need effective supervision and monitoring for its proper implementation to achieve the targeted 5.5 per cent GDP growth in the next fiscal.
   Experts and economists said the main challenge of the government was to implement the ambitious budgetary projections by mobilising resources in the context of falling revenues amid the global financial recession.
   It will be a big task for the government to keep the balance of the budget without which inflation may rise, said MK Mujeri, the director general of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies.
   ‘The cost of doing business of the local entrepreneurs and manufacturers may go up,’ he said, adding that higher government borrowing would crowd out the private sector.
   Besides, ‘misuse’ of the funds is a big concern as the highest budgetary allocation goes to interest payment constituting 14 per cent of the outlay.
   ‘The trend will eventually trap the country in a vicious cycle of borrowing,’ said MM Akash, a professor of economics at Dhaka University.

   Compared to the allocation for debt servicing at 14 per cent, projected allocation for health and education combinedfront2-a is less than 20 per cent. It raises doubts whether it would be sufficient to improve the limping state of public health and education.
   The Awami League election manifesto envisaged 100 per cent primary school enrolment by 2010 and universal access to pure drinking water by 2011.
   The experts and economists, however, agreed that the finance minister tried to meet the short-term challenges of the global financial meltdown with his measures to encourage higher public and private investment.
   In the proposed development programmes, the AL-led government earmarked 7.8 per cent for the agriculture sector, 22.1 per cent for local government, 14 per cent for power and energy, 15.7 per cent for communication and 23.5 per cent for human development.
   Muhith announced a stimulus programme of Tk 5,000 crore for continued assistance to the country’s exporters of readymade garments, jute and frozen food.
   He also laid the importance on domestic demand amid global financial recession, saying that the country should expand domestic and regional markets for goods and services.
   The finance minister announced a two per cent duty cut from the existing seven per cent on more than 2,000 imported raw materials that is expected to benefit local manufacturers.
   FBCCI president Annisul Huq appreciated the measures saying it would help revive domestic manufacturers after a decline of 1.29 per cent in the country’s manufacturing sector in the outgoing fiscal (5.92 per cent in 2008-09 from 7.21 per cent in 2007-08).
   The finance minister announced some ‘populist tax measures’ such as continuation of tax holiday, provision for legalising undeclared money (black money) in the share markets, real estate and other industries.
   Retaining the lowest income ceiling on income tax, Muhith announced a series of measures and reforms in the revenue board targeting an increase of 300,000 new taxpayers.
   As expected, he raised tariffs on luxury products including vehicles, electronics, dry fruits, juice and drinks and tobacco.
   Apart from the short-term measures, the finance minister clearly hinted about major changes in the government’s economic policies from the next fiscal.
   Muhith said he hoped to present a district level budget in 2010-11 fiscal to ensure transparency and accountability. He said the national budget is prepared centrally and fails to consider the hopes and aspirations of the people at the grass-roots.
   The finance minister stated that among other major shifts, the government would do away with the Poverty Reduction Strategy Plan, which was a three-year rolling programme, and resume the previously practised five-year plan from the year 2012.

Budget Highlights

Total outlay Tk 113819 crore
   Interest payment 13.9 per cent
   Public administration 13.6 per cent
   Education and information technology 11.9 per cent
   Local government and rural development 7.6 per cent
   Social security and welfare 7.3 per cent
   Subsidies 6.1 per cent
   Agriculture 4.5 per cent
   Energy and power 3.8 per cent
   GDP growth rate 5.5 per cent
   Inflation rate 6.5 per cent
   Domestic borrowing Tk 20,555 crore
   Foreign borrowing Tk 8,673 crore
   ADP Tk 30,500 crore
   Revenue expenditure Tk 77,243
   Budget deficit Tk 34,353 crore
   Tax revenue Tk 63,955 crore
   Duties up
   Newsprint, mobile phone sets, refrigerators, old and reconditioned vehicles, powder milk, footwear, cigarette, bidi, cold drinks, ceramic tiles, table ware, sanitary ware, finished leather products like beg, suitcase, tooth brushes, biscuits, particle boards, hardboards, imitation jewellery, drycell batteries and liquid glucose.
   Duties down
   Textbooks, solar panels, parts of energy saving lights, new hybrid cars, taxi cabs, ships, capital machinery and basic raw materials for producing pesticides, phosphoric acid, dioctyl orthophthalates, local powder milk.

Dev thinkers see no departure
from past philosophy

Say budget will hardly deliver on AL polls pledges

Khawaza Main Uddin

Development thinkers believe the proposed budget for 2009-2010 fiscal can hardly help the government deliver on the promises made in the ruling Awami League’s election manifesto — A Charter for Change — although the finance minister has tried to insert the pre-polls pledges into the budget literatures.
   Terming the budgetary goals haphazard and largely inconsistent with the AL’s election manifesto, they observed on Thursday that the budget had not made a ‘departure’ from the philosophy of economic development followed in the recent past which perpetuated poverty, regional disparity, corruption and bad governance.
   The finance minister has kept the government’s trust in the lender-driven development document – poverty reduction strategy paper – which would remain valid until June 2011, despite a decision to revert to the five-year plan.
   The economists raised questions about the proposed budgetary measures such as opportunity to whiten black money, mere subsistence programmes instead of social protection and graduation programmes for the poor, lack of capacity to achieve the targets, absence of effective local government institutions to distribute resources equitably, lack of mechanism to keep prices stable and even about public-private partnership initiative.
   The election manifesto outlined five major goals – maintenance of economic stability and control over commodity price hike, elimination of poverty and inequality, effective action against corruption, establishment of good governance and solution to energy and power crisis.
   ‘Awami League is committed to freeing Bangladesh from its current crisis and building a country where citizens are able to live a prosperous and happy life,’ reads the party’s election manifesto on the basis of which the Awami League-led alliance swept to power in the 2008 general elections.
   Apparently burdened with ‘sky high’ expectations of the people, the finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, in his budget speech, said: ‘It would be appropriate to remind that Rome was not built in a day and hence a reasonable time should be allowed to this government to fulfill its commitments.’
   ‘I don’t see any departure from the traditional line of development thinking in conformity with external agencies. Detailed guidelines have not been there to revitalise the economy, especially the rural sector, excepting the ministry-based programmes,’ said Sajjad Zahir, director of Economy Research Group.
   The economist, however, felt that the Awami League’s polls manifesto should have been better translated into policies under broader guidelines for making development-oriented the budget, which, he said, had bypassed some of the critical issues. For example, the proposed budget has made no mention of the land commission pledged in the election manifesto to address all problems relating to land as a major cause of poverty.
   Zahir said that the finance minister had sounded a bit complacent about deceleration in prices of essentials though it was not the result of the AL’s policies but of the impact of global recession.
   Muhith in his budget speech said the government — already in its sixth month after assumption of office — was ‘actively considering the issue of strengthening the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh to keep the prices of essential commodities stable.
   The budget has not projected any specific target of poverty reduction in the next fiscal although the election manifesto has set the target of bringing 20 million people out of poverty by the year 2013.
   Anu Muhammad, a professor of economics at Jahangirnagar University, said that the measures announced in the proposed budget were not consistent with the AL’s polls manifesto. ‘The finance minister only tried to paraphrase the contents of the election manifesto in his budget literature,’ he said.
   He referred to the issue of corruption allegedly committed during the BNP-led alliance government and said that the Awami League had followed suit in terms of policies and programmes that generated corruption and malpractices. ‘Initiatives like PPP will establish tyranny of the private sector and multinational companies,’ he added.
   The economist pointed out that the programmes such as safety nets and ‘one household one farm’ reflected the mindset of the policymakers to treat poverty and the poor from the point of view of giving ‘alms’ rather than increasing their capacity to engage themselves in productive activities.
   About the government’s promise to create massive employment, Mahbub Ullah, a professor of development studies at Dhaka University, wondered how the finance minister hoped to generate more jobs when both imports of capital machinery and exports of goods showed declining trends.
   ‘The election manifesto is too populist to be implemented in view of our economy. And the speech given by the finance minister is vague,’ he said asking why Muhith was now admitting that the government lacked capacity to implement the development budget.
   ‘We are particularly concerned about the possible implementation snags because of the ambitious size of the ADP for the next fiscal year,’ Muhith said in his budget speech.
   Mahbub Ullah said most of the pledges made by the finance minister were based on actions to be taken in the future. He, in this context, referred to Muhith’s budget speech in which he said: ‘I can assure you that this budget is only the beginning of the positive actions of the government.’
   Mujahidul Islam Selim, general secretary of the Communist Party of Bangladesh and a former student of economics, described the AL polls manifesto as flawed and said the budget, apparently containing smart programmes, had hardly had any reflections of polls manifesto.
   ‘The government continues the policy of looting and plundering national resources and the budget seems to be a backward journey,’ he said.

Finely-knit web of rhetoric: BNP
Staff Correspondent

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Thursday termed the budget proposed for the 2009–2010 financial year a finely-knit web of rhetoric and said the targets mentioned in the finance minister’s speech would hardly be achieved.
   The party’s secretary general Khandaker Delwar Hossain said the finance minister had tried to make the people dream for something, but the people will stop dreaming as they consider the speech similar to the Awami League’s electoral pledges.
   ‘It was full of contradictions. The most important thing is the implementation of the budget which needs rule of law and good governance. We think this budget will bring about no welfare to people because of the character of the ruling party,’ Delwar said.
   He also accused the prime minister and the Jatiya Sangsad speaker to keep the opposition out of the house over a trifle issue. ‘They said they would not judge the opposition on the basis of number, and forgot it all forcing the BNP to stay out of the house,’ he said.
   Delwar blasted the finance minister for leaking out the fiscal measures much before their placement in the parliament which befitted certain quarters. ‘We have heard of the leaking out of question papers of examinations, but we have never heard of any such thing with the budget.’
   The BNP formed a special panel involving former planning minister Abdul Moin Khan, former education minister M Osman Farruk, Dhaka University development studies teacher Mahbubullah, Dhaka University economics teacher Abu Ahmed, former Jahangirnagar University vice-chancellor Mustahidur Rahman, former Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association president SM Fazlul Huq, former Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Saiful Islam to analyse the budget.
   The panel heard the budget speech in the presence of the party chairperson, Khaleda Zia, in her office at Gulshan. The panellists gave their instant reaction to the budget.
   Mahbubullah criticised the estimation of the budget deficit at 5 per cent and the move to expand tax net.
   He also criticised the setting the income tax exemption limit at Tk 1,65,000, saying it would affect the people of fixed-income groups.
   Abu Ahmed said the government targeted the growth at 5.5 per cent, but the growth in the last budget of the immediate-past BNP government was 6.5 per cent. He also criticised the revenue target of about 80,000 crore which would be hard to achieve.
   Moin Khan said the government might have planned to borrow from commercial banks, but it would trigger severe competition in credit market and interest rates will go high, causing a slump in investment by private entrepreneurs.

Parties term budget pro-rich
Moloy Saha

A section of political parties that do not have representatives in the parliament criticised the proposed budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year on Thursday.
   The left-leaning political parties said that the fiscal measures are tilted in favour of the rich.
   They were also critical of the provision of whitening black money on the plea of investing it in certain sectors.
   ‘The budget will never serve the purpose of the poor people. It will only serve the interest of the rich and the looters,’ said the Communist Party of Bangladesh in an immediate reaction to the national budget.
   The government seems to have bowed down to the demands of the ‘looters’ instead of taking care of the real problems in agriculture and industries sectors, added the CPB.
   ‘Though this government had announced a charter for change, this budget will hardly help to achieve that goal,’ said the CPB’s central committee, adding that the proposed budget has ignored the problems of the working class.
   The Jatiya Party faction’s chairman, Anwar Hossain Monju, described the proposed budget as a product of the government’s imagination.
   ‘It is good if it can be implemented, but I doubt whether it can be,’ he said.
   The convener of the Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal, Khalequzzaman, said the budget involves a huge amount of money, but it does not specify how it will extend the services to the people.
   ‘The government has violated the constitution by keeping the provision of whitening black money,’ said Khalequzzaman.
   The proposed budget has followed the old system which will not bring about the changes that society desperately needs, he added.
   The Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal faction’s general secretary, Abdul Malek Ratan, said the proposed budget would not help the Awami League to implement its election pledges.
   There is no indication of reforms in the economic sector so it will not be bring about the required changes, he said.
   There is also no indication of improving the law and order situation in the proposed budget, which will not be able to attract investments and create jobs for the unemployed.
   The Revolutionary Workers Party of Bangladesh’s general secretary, Saiful Huq, said that the big deficit budget would increase the government’s dependence on the donors.
   He termed the provision of whitening black money ‘immoral’ and said that it would encourage the looters.
   The budget has not ensured social security and has no allocation for disaster management and protecting the environment, said Saiful.
   The Islami Andolon’s central leader, ATM Hemayetuddin, said the proposed budget would neither generate employment nor reduce poverty.

Social safety net widened
Tanim Ahmed

Deviating from the standard practice of cash assistance, the finance minister on Thursday proposed to launch a programme to rehabilitate poor people in urban areas to their original addresses. He also proposed to introduce one-stop centres for the disabled.
   Although insignificant compared to the sizeable allocation of cash assistance, the proposed programme marks a refreshing change in the social safety net schemes.
   Constituting 15.2 per cent of the budget, the safety net programme has been given about Tk 17,300 crore.
   Although the 100-day employment programme will be discontinued due to corruption and irregularities, AMA Muhith said,
   ‘Having reviewed the problems and policy weaknesses of that programme during implementation stage, we are proposing to implement a changed programme titled Employment Generation for the Hardcore Poor in FY 2009-10.’
   He said the new programme would generate employment equivalent to 49 lakh man-months.
   Through ‘Ghare Fera Programme’ (programme to return home), he said ‘initiative will be taken to bring the poor people from the urban areas to their own address’.
   These people would be provided with accommodation, finances and training for earning a livelihood. He said, ‘Khas land will be provided where possible.’
   Muhith said that the government, mindful of its election commitment, was taking an initiative to establish One-Stop Service to provide health care and ancillary facilities to the disabled. He proposed an allocation of Tk 5.41 crore for launching the new programme.
   Alongside the operation of open market sales, the finance minister also proposed to allocate Tk 5,877 crore under the non-development budget for the Food for Works Programme, VGF, VGD, TR (Food), GR (Food) and also for the food assistance in the form of food security programmes for Chittagong Hill Tracts.
   Old age allowance has been raised by Tk 50 to Tk 300 with an increased coverage from 20 lakh to 22.50 lakh. The allocation has been increased from Tk 600 crore to Tk. 810 crore in the next budget.
   Allowances for the destitute women were fixed at Tk 300 per person. The allocation was increased from Tk 61.20 crore to Tk 331.20 crore in the next fiscal indicating that there would be a substantial increase in coverage.
   Muhith recommended an increase of the monthly allowance for insolvent freedom fighters from Tk 900 to Tk 1,500. Proposing an increase in coverage from 1 lakh to 1.25 lakh, he also proposed to increase the allocation to Tk 225 crore.
   He proposed a monthly allowance of Tk 300 for the insolvent-disabled and also increased the number of beneficiaries from 2 lakh to 2 lakh 60 thousand. For this purpose, Tk 93.6 crore 60 thousand will be required in the fiscal year 2009-10.
   The finance minister increased the allowance for poor breast-feeding (lactating) mothers by Tk 50 to Tk 350. This will require an allocation Tk 33.60 crore which is Tk 11.1 crore higher than last year.
   ‘At the same time, we are proposing to allocate Tk 25 crore for launching a similar programme namely “Allowance for Lactating Low Income Working Mothers in Urban Areas”.’
   There was a special fund earmarked for disaster under different sectors amounting to Tk 133.20 crore.

Tariff on luxury goods up,
essentials down

Staff Correspondent

AMA Muhith proposed to allow whitening of black money after payment of 10 per cent direct tax for the next three years if the undeclared monies were invested in certain specified sectors.
   He said on Thursday that individuals would be allowed to legalise undisclosed money without any question from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2012. Besides the 10 per cent direct tax, these monies would have to be invested in physical infrastructure facilities, stock market and industries including start-ups in textiles, garments, leather, drug, IT enabled services and shipbuilding.
   The infrastructure facilities include ports and container facilities, fly-overs and elevated roads, mono and underground railways, telecom sector except mobile phones, water and waste treatment plants and solar energy plants.
   The minister proposed to impose 35 per cent tax on commercial banks, insurance, leasing companies and financial companies unless these institutions floated at least 10 per cent of their equity in the share market.
   He proposed to raise the threshold level for imposing excise duty on bank deposits to Tk 20,000 instead of the existing Tk 10,000.
   In case of purchasing apartments for whitening black money, tax would be imposed depending on the size and location of the apartments.
   Muhith exempted personal income tax for citizens above 65 years of age lowering it from the current 70.
   He reduced duty on basic raw materials from 7 per cent to 5 per cent in order to make local industries more competitive both in local and international markets. Other duty structures of 3 per cent on capital machinery and parts, 12 per cent on intermediate raw materials and 25 per cent on finished products remain unchanged.
   The finance minister imposed 25 per cent customs duty on mobile phone sets instead of existing specific duty of Tk 300 per set applied irrespective of its value. He also waived all existing duties and taxes on SIM cards.
   Muhith also waived the prevailing 3 per cent tariff on solar panels and fully exempted parts of energy saving lamps from the existing customs duty of 7 per cent and value added tax. This would facilitate production of energy saving lamps.
   He gave a tax holiday to garment exporters on the condition of a 40 per cent reinvestment of their income.
   He increased supplementary duty on imports of luxury vehicles and restructured duty slabs. He also fixed the consolidated rate of depreciation at 30 per cent for old, used and reconditioned vehicles not exceeding five years. Dealers’ commission for deduction from the value of such vehicles was fixed at 10 per cent instead of the existing 20.
   In order to offer exemption from supplementary duty against import of hybrid motorcars, which are fuel efficient, the finance minister proposed to create a new HS code for separate classification.
   To enable imports of durable and standard vehicles to be used as taxicab, Muhith attached a condition of minimum engine capacity of 1500CC and import of at least 10 vehicles in one consignment by any taxi company. He also waived all customs tariffs excess of 20 per cent and all supplementary duty and regulatory duty for taxi cabs fulfilling the above conditions.
   The minister increased income tax on air conditioned buses, minibuses and microbuses running on rent.
   He proposed 60 per cent and 45 per cent supplementary duties on air-conditioners and spare parts respectively. Muhith also proposed 30 per cent supplementary duty instead of the existing 20 per cent on import of refrigerators and 60 per cent supplementary duty instead of the existing 20 per cent on luxury lights and fittings.
   He withdrew the existing 7 per cent customs duty on ocean going vessels with a capacity of 3000 metric tonnes or more.
   For protecting the interest of the local paper manufacturing industries, finance minister imposed five percent customs duty on the import of newsprint to be used in the newspaper industry. Moreover, he also proposed to withdraw the value added tax applicable for importing pulp that is the raw material for the paper industry.
   He said all text books would continue to enjoy zero tariff while duty on other books, including fiction and novel would be reduced from the existing 12 to 5 per cent.
   He imposed 5 per cent regulatory duty in addition to 12 per cent customs duty on milk powder imported in bulk to protect the local dairy industry.

Allocation declines as power crisis on
Staff Correspondent

The Awami League-led alliance government has earmarked Tk 4,310 crore for the power and energy sectors for the next fiscal.
   Although the country is reeling under a serious power and energy crisis the allocation was actually Tk 31 crore less than that of the current fiscal.
   The military-controlled interim government had allocated Tk 4,341 crore for the energy sectors for the current fiscal, but the allocation was reduced to Tk 2,904 crore in the supplementary budget by the present government as many development projects were not implemented.
   Abul Mal Abdul Muhith, on Thursday, allocated Tk 4,310 crore for the power and energy sectors, Tk 3,578 crore for power and Tk 732 crore for energy, in the proposed budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal.
   Despite the reduced allocation for power and energy, he said in his budget speech, ‘Our development efforts are severely constrained by the dismal state of the energy and power sectors. We are committed to get rid of this impediment.’
   He said the government was determined to take steps to increase power generation to meet the country’s expected demand of 20,000MW by 2021 and attain a position to fulfil the minimum demand of electricity by 2011.
   Muhith, however, said that it was not possible on the part of the government alone to make the huge investment direly needed for the desired power generation. ‘We have, therefore, embarked upon involving the private sector in short, medium and long term plans.’
   ‘If we go ahead as planned, we hope that by 2013, 2,810MW of power will be produced at 13 projects under the public sector and another 1,350MW by three projects, including the 450MW Bibiyana project, under private sector,’ he said.
   The finance minister said that a project worth Tk 105 crore had been undertaken to produce energy saving bulbs and around 350MW of electricity would be saved if the project was implemented.
   He mentioned that 837 kilometres of power transmission lines, 17 power substations and 15,000 kilometres of distribution lines would be constructed in the next three years.
   He also cited that they were continuing dialogues with the neighbouring countries to import power to mitigate the electricity crisis on a short-term basis and import gas through pipelines on the basis of mutual cooperation.
   About gas reserves, Muhith said the country had a current proven reserve of 7.3 trillion cubic feet and it was depleting. Unless new gas fields were discovered, the supply would start diminishing from 2011, he added.
   The government will soon go for offshore gas exploration by the international oil companies, he said.
   He added that his government was actively considering creation of a gas development fund to enhance the capacity of the state-owned BAPEX for exploration of oil and gas.
   About the country’s coal resources, he said the government was seriously considering the use of coal with gas for power generation.
   ‘We shall set up coal-fired power plant using environment-friendly technology for extraction of coal. If required, coal may be imported to run these power plants,’ Muhith said adding, ‘A time-befitting Energy and Coal Policy is nearing finalisation.’
   About the nuclear power plant, he said, ‘It would not be advisable to avoid power generation using nuclear technology despite the element of risk of accidents involved. We have begun the preparatory work on this matter.’
   The government is considering establishment of a state-financed nuclear power project at Roopur with a capacity of producing 1,000MW, he said.
   About renewable energy, the finance minister said that the country was producing only 20MW of electricity from renewable sources and the government had encouraged production of renewable energy both at public and private channels by providing financial incentives.

Edn, health, tech sectors
to get Tk 21,367cr

Staff Correspondent

The finance minister, AMA Muhith, allocated Tk 21,367 crore for education, health and technology sectors in the proposed national budget for the 2009-10 financial year terming them integral part of total development planning.
   The amount is 19 per cent of the total budget.
   In current fiscal year, the allocation for education and technology was Tk 12,258 crore which was over 12 per cent of the total budget.
   Muhith, proposed to allocate Tk 300 crore in the next fiscal year for free distribution of text books at the secondary level to achieve the target of removing illiteracy from the country by the year 2014.
   Tk 3,904 crore has been proposed for disbursing monthly payment orders (MPO) to non–government school teachers. This covers 62 percent of the revenue budget of ministry of education.
   The finance minister proposed to allocate Tk 112 crore for additional MPO subvention to non-government institutions for FY 2009-10.
   The minister announced that the entire MPO listing system will be reviewed to identify fake institutions (institutions without teachers or students).
   In order to enroll more students in vocational and technical courses, the minister proposed to allocate Tk 322 crore for 2009-10 fiscal, which constitutes an increase of 56.3 percent over the allocation of current fiscal year.
   Keeping in his mind to build a digital Bangladesh, the finance minister has proposed an allocation of Tk 100 crore to meet the emergency expenditure in the ICT sector.
   Muhith said that the government has started reviewing the health policy and announced that some 13,500 community clinics will be established across the country.
   He also proposed to earmark Tk 498 crore for procurement of birth control related materials and equipment.
   In his budget speech, the finance minister announced that all hospitals at Upazila and district levels will be modernized and upgraded to 50-bed and 250-bed hospitals respectively to render better services to the patients.

Duty on newsprint goes up
Staff correspondent

The price of imported newsprint used in the newspaper industry is likely to increase as finance minister AMA Muhith on Thursday proposed to impose customs duty of 5 per cent on imported newsprint in the financial year 2009-10.
   He, however, proposed to withdraw the VAT applicable for import of pulp, the raw material for making paper, in order to protect the local paper manufacturing industries.
   He also proposed to reduce the duty on several categories of books, including fiction and literary novels, from 12 per cent to 5 per cent. Textbooks will continue to enjoy zero tariff.

 Budget for 1 dist in each division
in FY 2011 proposed

Staff Correspondent



District budget for one district in each division will be prepared for the 2010–11 financial year through partial modification and improvement in the classification structure and a few changes in the development project proforma.
   In his speech of the proposed budget for 2009–2010, the finance minister, AMA Muhit, told Jatiya Sangsad, ‘I hope I will be able to present a district-level budget in the budget for the 2010–11 financial year before this august house.’
   ‘If it is possible, the central budget will also
   be able to illustrate a district-wise budgetary break-up, which will ensure transparency of public expenditure and accountability in the implementation of programmes,’ he said.
   The national budget prepared centrally does not capture the hopes and aspirations of the people at grass roots and transparency and accountability cannot be ensured as none can say how much resources have been utilised in a particular district, he explained.
   ‘Once the process is begun, we shall be able to capture inputs for budgeting and planning from the district level,’ he said.



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