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Less spending yields Bangladesh budget surplus in 1st half

| Updated: February 24, 2022 19:08:08

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Bangladesh sees budget surplus in the first half of the current fiscal year as the government spent less than its tax and other revenue receipts, officials say.

The surplus in December reached Tk 13.57 billion, the finance division reports.

Government's total receipt up to December was recorded at Tk 1.51 trillion. The budget spending, meanwhile, fell overall in December by 3.4 per cent to Tk 1.49 trillion.

The reasons according to the government statement are lesser expenditures in operating and development outlays up to December 2021 than that of corresponding period a year before.

The operating expenditure up to December was recorded Tk 1.11 trillion, nearly 2.0-per cent down from the July-December 2020 mark.

On the other hand, development spending up to December 2021 amounted to Tk 348.28 billion, in a slide by over 8.0 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

Collection of tax revenue consisting of NBR taxes and non-NBR taxes rose to Tk 1.36 trillion while the non-tax revenue fell by nearly 61 per cent in the first half of the ongoing fiscal year.

The non-tax revenue, consisting of incomes from the state-owned enterprises and other fees and tolls, came to Tk 154.83 billion in the July-December 2021 period. It was Tk 248.49 billion in July-December 2020.

Economists believe the surplus will not last up till the end of the fiscal year when the spending usually becomes much higher.

They also say that there are many divisions which cannot spend funds despite many efforts from government end to accelerate the budget spending, especially on development heads.

Dr Ahsan H. Mansur, executive director at the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, sees this as a temporary phenomenon of the fiscal end.

"This surplus will not last at the end of the fiscal year," he told the FE, explaining usual trends.

He says government cannot spend the funds at right time for the people and for the economy.

"The key divisions, including the health services division, cannot spend to the targets, leading to fall in the outlays."

Dr Masrur Reaz, chairman at Policy Exchange of Bangladesh, told the FE that the beginning of the fiscal year was disrupted by the spread of the delta variant of coronavirus.

"Actually the first two months of the ongoing fiscal year were highly disrupted by the Delta variant--it forced to stop many development projects," he says.

Dr Masrur notes that there have been cumulative effects of the coronavirus pandemic since early March of 2020. "There is a cumulative effect on the development projects that forced the development spending to slow."

He, however, stresses expediting the spending particularly during this ongoing pandemic period in the interest of employment and growth.

"There are many reports and findings that the unemployment rate has expanded during this pandemic, and this may be somewhat compensated by increased expenditure from the public sides," he says.

The private enterprises will take time to pick up but the government expenditure may compensate for the higher unemployment rate on the economy, he notes.

The budget for the fiscal year 2022 is Tk 6.02767 trillion. The revenue target for the year is Tk 3.92490 trillion, leaving an overall deficit estimated at Tk 2.10277 trillion.

The deficit financing was targeted from foreign sources at Tk 977.38 billion and domestic sources at Tk 1.13453 trillion.

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