Bangladesh unveils budget of over $28 bn

Dhaka, June 6 (IANS) The Bangladeshi government Thursday unveiled a record 2.22 trillion taka (about $28.50 billion) proposed national budget targeting an economic growth of 7.2 percent for the next 2013-14 fiscal year starting in July.

The country's Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith placed the fifth annual budget of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) party government since 2009 before the parliament when opposition legislators boycotted the presentation, reported Xinhua.

In his budget speech, Muhith said: "We began our journey in 2009 keeping in view the goals set out in 'Vision 2021'. Today, we are almost half way through. From the very beginning, our aim was to transform Bangladesh into a middle income country. Every budget we announced was a tool for realizing this goal."

He said many critics commented that the budgets are ambitious. However, the reality turned out quite differently, he added.

"I am pleased to let you know that we have attained outstanding success in achieving the targets as set out in the budgets."

The total outlay of the proposed budget for the next fiscal year 2013-14 (July 2013-June 2014) is 2,224.91 billion taka (about $28.52 billion), up by over 16 percent over that of the original budget of the outgoing fiscal year 2012-13 (July 2012-June 2013).

According to the proposal, the overall budget deficit, including grants, will be 550.32 billion taka ($7.06 billion), or about 4.6 percent of GDP. The deficit will be financed up to 143.98 billion taka (about $1.85 billion) from external sources and about 339.64 billion taka (about $4.35 billion) from domestic sources, it said.

Despite the recessionary shocks, Muhith said, in keeping with developing and emerging Asian economies, the country was able to sustain satisfactory economic growth by pursuing cautious and prudent macroeconomic strategies.

Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics has recently released the provisional estimate of GDP for fiscal year 2012-13 which is 6.03 percent, said the minister.

"We have re-fixed the real economic growth target at 7.2 percent for FY 2013-14," he said.

Although Hasina's ruling AL party welcomed the budget, terming it a pro-people one that will help boost development in the country, her arch rival ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) rejected it, saying it's "partisan and pro-election budget" with wrong and confusing information and financing the budget would be clouded with uncertainties.

Lawmakers of Khaleda's 18-party alliance, which has long been staging demonstration for restoration of a system for a non-party caretaker government to oversee elections slated for early 2014, launched two walk-outs of the House Wednesday protesting the remarks by two ministers on late president Ziaur Rahman, founder of BNP and a liberation war hero, and his elder son Tarique Rahman, also a senior vice chairman of the party.

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