Staff Correspondent :
Dhaka – The government has unveiled nearly 67-billion-dollar national budget for 2020-21 financial year focusing improvement of a run-down health delivery system that failed to serve the people during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Thursday proposed an allocation of 3.45 billion dollars for the health sector development for the next financial year, giving a rise of more than 23 percent than that of the allocation of the outgoing fiscal year.
The minister presented the measures to be implemented in the new fiscal year beginning on July 1. A select group of lawmakers wearing facemasks, hand-gloves attended the parliament sitting, presided over by Shirin Sharmin Choudhury, the speaker of the House. The lawmakers maintained physical distancing. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also the Leader of the House was among them.
Kamal, who presented the budget for second consecutive time, highlighted the economic risks that the novel coronavirus has created and proposed a number of measures to cushion them.
“We have taken all measures to improve the health sector. We are implementing different schemes to combat the Covid-19 pandemic,” the minister said announcing a special allocation to counter the virus epidemic.
The virus has killed more than 1,000 people and infected more than 78,000 since March in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi hospitals are struggling with the situation as most health facilities are unprepared to face the crisis.
The lawmakers will debate the proposals presented by the finance minister who targets 44 billion dollars to acquire from tax and non-tax revenue sector to finance education, technology, defence, social safety, public order, transport and infrastructure development.
The rest of the amount nearly 22.4 billion dollars will come in a form of grants of loan from international lenders, and borrowing from domestic banking system.
Despite the fact that the pandemic has slowed economic activities and caused income loss of the people, the government still hopeful about an 8.2 per cent economic growth. The World Bank last week predicted it to be 1.6 per cent.