Bangladesh is now a role model of increasing inequality, said Anu Muhammad, a prominent economist and professor of economics at Jahangirnagar University.
He made the remark at a seminar titled ‘National Budget 2022-23: Expectations and Realities of All,’ organised by the Department of Economics, Jahangirnagar University (JU) on Sunday (June 19).
Professor Anu Muhammad said, “Significant budget has not been allocated for disaster management, labour and inspection, education and health. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been talking for a long time about allocating 6.0 per cent of GDP or 20 per cent of the total budget to the education sector, but this time, as always, the budget standard has not been met.”
“The budget in this sector is less than 2.0 per cent of GDP. The number of government secondary schools in Bangladesh is less than in any other country in the world. There are employment opportunities for about 500,000-600,000 people in this sector. At the same time, there is a need to increase the manpower in the health sector.”
He further said that no one wanted the new incentives that the government was talking about in the remittance sector to bring illegal money back to the country. Neither the economists nor any of the organisations involved in this sector. As a result of this incentive, the rich will actually become richer and the poor will become poorer.
The emphasis in the budget on the production of domestic products will be the opposite of the high taxes imposed on foreign products. We have closed jute mills and sugar mills and are now importing them from abroad at high prices. While the mills could be repaired with little money, it would create jobs for many people.
Regarding the ongoing mega projects in the country, Anu Muhammad said, "What we call the role model of development is actually a role model? We spent the most money on the Dhaka-Mawa Expressway, now building a bridge. Threatening nature, Rampal Coal Thermal Power Station and Rooppur Nuclear Power Station are built.”
“We are said that we are implementing the project with the country's own money. In fact, all the money is the country's money. In the implementation of the project, loans are taken from foreign companies but we repay those loans. So we do all the work with our own money.”
Referring to the government's failure to control the flood situation in Sylhet, he said, “The government had not heeded the warning given by a private research institute in May to warn of floods in Sylhet. Instead, it has reduced the budget for disaster management. The crisis that existed in the fire service ten-fifteen years ago is still there today. Although the government has purchased equipment from Israel to increase surveillance, it has failed to take steps to develop this important sector.”
“As a result, people are giving life in different places. Although the price of everything has increased in the country now, the price of life has not increased.”
Conducted by Professor Anu Muhammad, the seminar was presided over by Professor Dr K Md Ashraful Munim, chairman, Department of Economics. Taufiqul Islam Khan, senior research fellow, Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Researcher Maha Mirza and Mohammad Monir, lecturer, Department of Economics, Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP) presented the paper.