Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked the authorities only to spend for priority projects – an austerity effort to cap the public expenditure in the wake of the global inflationary spike and growing concern over slumping international economy.
"Do not splurge while implementing development projects. Do not spend unnecessarily," she told the ministries and divisions at a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) on Tuesday, asking the implementing agencies to prepare their priority lists.
"We will implement projects that are urgent, and shelve low-priority works for now so that our economy does not face the pressure mostly stemming from the international crisis," she noted.
However, urging public officials not to get scared by the looming international economic crisis, she called for a cautionary approach instead.
"If everyone is a little frugal and spends carefully, then there should not be too much of a problem," Sheikh Hasina said.
Later, Planning Minister MA Mannan and State Minister Shamsul Alam briefed journalists.
Minister MA Mannan said public and autonomous agencies have already been instructed to avoid foreign tours and tighten the belt now. The premier also called upon the private sector to adopt an austerity measure.
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has already sought the ministries list with projects costing the government more than Tk50 crore each. A meeting to determine project priorities is slated for Wednesday.
Sheikh Hasina said Covid fallout and Russia-Ukraine conflict have not only affected Bangladesh but also many developed and underdeveloped nations across the globe.
"Price of essential items is spiralling globally causing inflationary pressure everywhere. We need to persuade people how those international situations have pushed up commodity prices in the local market," the prime minister added.
Referring to her, the planning minister said the government will open the much-anticipated Padma Bridge for traffic next month.
Dev spending for FY23 approved
The NEC meeting approved Tk246,066 crore development spending, including Tk93,000 crore foreign loans and grants, for the next fiscal year.
The new development budget is 9.21% larger than the one for the current fiscal year. The annual development allocation for FY23 is also 18.56% higher than the revised development budget for the current year.
Out of the original annual development budget, Tk9,937 crore has been allocated to autonomous organisations and corporations for the next fiscal year. The total number of projects in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) is 1,435. Of these, there are 85 projects by the autonomous bodies.
In the new ADP, 809 projects have been kept in unapproved category. Considering priority, the government will commission projects from this category in FY23.
According to authorities, some 280 ongoing projects are expected to be completed in the next fiscal year.
Transport tops allocation
Allocation for transport and communication has doubled in FY23 next year compared to the current 2021-22 fiscal year. The allocation – 28.73% of the total development spending – is the highest in FY23 development allocation.
The whopping allocation prioritises several ongoing mega-projects such as Karnaphuli tunnel, metro rail (MRT-6), Jamuna rail bridge, Padma rail link, Dhaka elevated expressway and Matarbari port.
Project officials said the development works are now at their peak. Therefore, those need more money to facilitate the progress.
The ADP share for transport and communication in the development spending is Tk70,695 crore, which is Tk14,868 crore more than the revised Tk55,827 crore allocation for this year.
Similar to the transport sector, allocations for power and energy, education and health have been raised in the new ADP.
The second highest allocation Tk39,412 crore goes to the power and energy sector.
Allocation for the health was 7.68% of the current fiscal year's development budget this year. In the new ADP, health allocation has been slightly increased to 7.83%, or by Tk10,820 crore.
Compared to the revised ADP for the current fiscal year, health allocation has increased by Tk5,480 crore in the new ADP.
In the new development spending, allocation for education has been raised to 11.82%, which is around 36.48% more than the FY22 ADP.
Education got 10.29% allocation in the FY22 development spending, but the education budget was trimmed to 3.81% later.
In the new ADP, the highest Tk13,395.60 crore has been allocated for the Rooppur nuclear power project. The second highest Tk8,758 crore allocation goes to the education sector. The next highest allocated projects are Matarbari coal power project, Shahjalal airport expansion and Padma rail link project respectively.
Returned home for people: PM
While speaking at the NEC meeting coinciding with her home coming day, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated that she returned home with only a goal to bring smiles on the faces of the country's people, reports BSS.
Recalling the day of her return from forced exile on 17 May 1981, Sheikh Hasina said, "When I landed at the airport, I didn't get anyone of my nearest ones [relatives] but received love of millions of people, and that was my only strength and I've moved ahead with this strength."
She also mentioned her visit to every knock and cranny across the country facing barriers after returning home.
She said, "I've got the confidence, love and trust of the people of Bangladesh."
The prime minister said that it was so hard for her to assume power as "both local and international hindrance was there so I couldn't come to power and had to face hurdles each time".
"But I didn't stop, I didn't give up, I had the confidence that if I assume power, I can work for the people," she added.