Even though there are concerns of inflation rising further in the running month, prices of daily necessities will start to come down in October, Planning Minister MA Mannan said on Tuesday.
"The country's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by 7% by the end of the current fiscal year," the minister said at a dialogue organised by the Development Journalists Forum of Bangladesh (DJFB) at the NEC conference room in the capital's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar.
"The country has around two million tonnes of food in stock. The price of rice is coming down. Aman rice is about to hit the market. Rabi crops (winter crops such as Boro rice, wheat, potato, lentils, oilseeds and vegetables) are also on their way. Overall, we expect inflation to come down from October," he said.
Inflation reports for August and September are yet to be released. However, the minister hinted that the inflation rate will be slightly higher in these two months.
In the latest report of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), inflation in July slightly decreased to 7.48%, which was 7.56% in June – the highest in the last nine years.
When food inflation rises, poor and low-income people suffer the most. According to an internal report of the Ministry of Finance, Bangladesh's overall inflation target for the fiscal year 2022-23 is 5.6 %.
The planning minister said, "Due to Covid and the Ukraine-Russia war, our economy was on the verge of collapse but we managed to turn around under the leadership of the prime minister. Now we have a huge food stock. We will get a loan of $4.5 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF)."
Regarding IMF loans to deal with economic downfall, Mannan said, "It is our right as a member state to get loans from IMF. Initially, they expressed interest after we lodged a loan request. The IMF also has a responsibility to us. In case of a crisis, it will extend loans, advice and assistance to any of its members. Now we need the loan."
"I fear whether the social stability that exists now will remain in the future because things will fall apart without stability," he said.
Responding to a question, the planning minister said that the poverty rate, which is the root cause of corruption in the country, currently stands at around 20%.
"The government is trying to curb corruption by reducing the poverty rate," he said, adding that laws should be implemented to reduce corruption in procurement.
Suggesting that each project have a single manager, Mannan said the project manager should stay in the project area for better supervision.
Regarding project implementation, the minister said, "We approve the projects and they are taken care of by the project managers. If a contractor provides 8 instead of 10 bricks in a project's infrastructure building, it is difficult for us to detect it."
"We admit there are many things we cannot implement yet. Still the project managers don't live in the project area, a single manager looks after multiple projects. But the number of projects we are implementing is historic," Mannan said.
India is now one of Bangladesh's development partners under the Line of Credit (LoC) programme.
Regarding the LoC, the minister said, "In my experience, it is a bureaucratic programme and takes time to move forward. Asian Development Bank and World Bank are not so bureaucratic. However, the prime minister's recent visit to India will speed things up."
The government is creating 100 economic zones in the country with planned industrialisation and infrastructure building is a priority for the government now, Mannan said at the event which was presided over by DJFB President Hamid-uz-Zaman Mamun.