CGS Webinar on Life, Livelihood and National Budget

17 July 2020
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Centre for Governance Studies organized a Webinar on the National Budget of Bangladesh on 14 June 2020, Sunday. The title of the webinar was “Life, Livelihood and National Budget” The webinar was participated by scholars, business & civil society leaders, economists, policy makers, political leaders. Professor Dr. Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir, Department of Development Studies, and the University of Dhaka presented the keynote paper. Dr. Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, MP, the Honorable Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Bangladesh was the Chief Guest of the event and  Mr. Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, Member, National Standing Committee, BNP & Former Minister was the Guest of Honor. Dr. Manjur Ahmed Chowdhury, Acting Chairman, Centre for Governance Studies presided the session by and Mr. Zillur Rahman, Executive Director of the Centre moderated it.

In the keynote speech, Professor Dr. Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir expressed his concerns on the unrealistic growth rate (8.2%), the downturn of remittance, income erosion, emergence of neo-poor, and diminished savings. He added that village economics will be at risk due to low flow of remittances, the low income will be the worst victims of the pandemic. Dr Fahmida Khatun, executive director of the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) showed her concerns on the investment rate and the unrealistic GDP growth. She added that to achieve 25.3% of investment target, Tk4.46 trillion will be needed which is quite difficult. Economist SelimJahan, Advisor of CGS, opined that new jobs should be created and the government should increase the allocation in the national budget for the health sector. Abdul Matlub Ahmed, former FBCCI president and president of India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries (IBCCI) expressed his opinions and said that the budget is timely in this pandemic situation. He added that the government has given importance to domestic industries, the agriculture sector and marginal-small-medium business communities to keep the wheels of the economy moving. ShoebChowdhury, vice president of IBCCI and director IBFB expressed his deep concerns on the low allotment in the public health sector but the high allotment in the public administration which is not good for the country. He also opined that the expatriates may lose their jobs due to the pandemic which will bring the reduction in the remittance flow. Mr. Chowdhury also showed concerns on the banking sectors and criticized the finance minister for being silent on these issues.

The guest of honor of the event Mr. Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury criticized the activities of the government and expressed his concerns on the vulnerabilities of the health sector and the poor facilities at the hospitals. He added that the poor are suffering the most and they need proper assistance to cash to ensure demand-supply of the economy. He raised the question on the allotment for mega-projects in such an unusual pandemic situation and said that this is not the proper time for that.  Agriculture minister Dr Abdur Razzak addressed the concerns raised by the panelist of the event and opined that the pandemic has reshaped the world economy and many countries are suffering from it and according to many Economists, the food shortage and famine may have occurred. However, the government is well aware of these issues and ensures the food and social safety. He also said that farmers are getting their fair prices and the villages have not any crisis right now.

Among others, Dr Abdullah-Al-Mamun, teacher at the Japanese Studies Center of Dhaka University and Research Director of CGS,  Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers' Association (BELA), veteran economic journalist Zahiduzzaman Faruk, FBCCI director Abdul Haque, Nasreen Awal Mintu, founder president of Women Entrepreneurs and Monoj Kumar Roy also expressed their opinion at the webinar.