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FY 2024-25 Budget Reactions

Education and health budget 'scanty': CPD

FE REPORT | June 11, 2024 00:00:00

The proposed allocations for health and education are much-lower-than-required enough to seriously affect the disadvantaged people who are already victims of existing inequalities.

Even limited allocation mostly concentrates on infrastructure development rather than on human resources, thereby creating long-term challenges for the country, speakers made the observations at a programme on Monday.

A joint media briefing on 'National Budget 2024-25 and Prevailing Situation: Access to Disadvantaged People' was hosted by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh, with the support of the European Union in Dhaka.

CPD distinguished fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya chaired the meeting where senior research fellow Towfiqul Islam Khan presented a keynote styled 'National Budget 2024-25 and Prevailing Situation: What Did the Disadvantaged Citizens Get?' prepared by the CPD research team.

Policy Exchange of Bangladesh chairman M Masrur Reaz, Transparency International Bangladesh executive director Iftekharuzzaman and East West University economics professor AK Enamul Haque, among others, spoke.

Highlighting different aspects of the budget, Mr Khan said budgetary measures have not addressed the plight of lower-middle income households properly.

Upper middle-income groups have been widely favoured.

"Written strategies prioritise basic needs like health and education. However, those are not truly reflected at implementation level," said Mr Khan.

The advantaged people, who usually do not take government health and education services, mostly concentrate on building infrastructure.

Even a huge amount of health budget allocation this year has been put aside for constructing buildings at three medical universities, added the keynoter.

Dr Debapriya said economic stability comprising inflationary situation, foreign investment flow, prevention of forex-reserve depletion and GDP growth through job creation is essential for the sake of disadvantaged people.

"We have not really received proper guidance on the (economic) stability issue (in the proposed budget)," he mentioned.

During economic sluggishness, Dr Debapriya said, the government should back the poor and disadvantaged people through not only social protection, but also through physical protection.

"We have not been given any scope to be assured with," he said, adding that the people have also been deprived of political will for economic reform measures, even the mere indication to this end.

"Regarding three issues of stability, protection and reform, we have not got comfort, assurance and indication," he said.

The proposed budget has not been congruent with the government's political commitment made during the last general election, he said, adding that even the budget is also not aligned with the government's different development goals like the perspective plan.

Mr Haque said investment in education was not in proportion with infrastructure and human resources, which would cause serious trouble in future. He cited an example of a four-storey school building in haor area, where only one teacher was teaching all students of five classes.

Meanwhile, Mr Reaz said inflation, foreign-exchange regime and banking governance are three of the challenges facing the country's economy.

The budget shows an oblivious position about banking governance, he said, adding that no signal has been given to recover trillions of taka as non-performing loans.

"No programme or resource allocation for such programmes, policy directives or signals to recover the money have been cited in the proposed budget," he said.

Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) deputy director Dr Mostafizur Rahman, WaterAid regional director (South Asia) Dr Md Khairul Islam, among others, spoke.

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