The government may opt to take loans from the reserve to ensure vaccination for 70-80% of the citizens, experts said at a webinar organised by Unnayan Shamannay on Saturday.
They said this will increase the budget deficit by 0.4% and policymakers need not worry too much about the increase in deficit. The government rather should prioritise adequate allocations for health, education, and social safety nets.
Speaking at the virtual discussion on the proposed national budget, the panel discussants also suggested expanding the budgetary allocation to the country's small and medium enterprise (SME) and agriculture sectors.
Unnayan Shamannay's Lead Economist Robart Shuvro Guda, the organisation's Policy Analyst Zinia Sharmin and its Emeritus Fellow Khondoker Shakhwat Ali along with six students from different universities made the proposals.
They emphasised employment-oriented investment, using the education and health sectors as development stairs during the pandemic and post-pandemic.
The panelists also proposed spending money for the protection of low-income citizens by collecting taxes from the upper classes of the country.
Participating students raised the issue of inadequate allocations in the proposed budget for social safety nets.
"The government must also consider taking up new programmes considering the existing realities. A lot of workers are returning from abroad. A large portion of the urban workers are also returning to the villages," Robart Shuvro Guda said in response.
"Safety nets should be initiated so that a significant share of these workers may be engaged in the rural areas. Safeguarding these people will contribute towards maintaining the domestic demand, which in turn will benefit the macroeconomic condition of the country as well."
In response to another question, Zinia Sharmin said Bangladesh being on the way to attaining developing country status amid the pandemic situation reflects the macroeconomic strength of the country.
"However, instead of thinking about how long it will take to get the developing country status; policymakers must prioritise safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of the people," she said.
"Bangladesh needs to start working for universal pension scheme and health insurance from now."
"Bangladesh, like any other country now, is going through an extraordinary phase. The journey of Bangladesh's inclusive development has definitely hit a bump due to the pandemic. However, there is still scope for comprehensive socio-economic recovery," eminent sociologist Khondoker Shakhawat Ali said in his concluding remarks.
"The planning for recovery needs to be as participatory as possible. And for that, the policymakers must engage with all the stakeholders at home and abroad."