Fiscal aid transfer and food support are immediately required for underprivileged and disadvantaged group of people, as food prices increased significantly in fiscal year (FY) 2020-21 against reduction in income and employment, according to a research study report, revealed on Sunday.
"So in the deliverance of the National Budget 2021, one of the major concerns should be expanding support through fiscal transfer and food support," noted the report, published by the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh.
"Though general inflation rate remained more or less stable during June of FY 21 (around 5.6 per cent), food inflation went up from 5.41 per cent to 5.84 per cent last year, and it reached almost 6.0 per cent until June this year," said Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, convenor of the platform, while presenting the study findings at a virtual event.
The study - "Delivery of the National Budget 2021 in the Context of the Pandemic: Ensuring Interests of the Disadvantaged People" - suggested that the delivery of such support could be ensured by upgrading the database and engaging the community-based (non-government) actors.
The study also identified four major concerns for FY 22.
Dr Debapriya said the food prices (inflation) should be kept under 'low and stable' level by strengthening public procurement mechanism, OMS (open market sale) operation, and expanding FFW (food for work) programmes.
It was a great concern in 2021, as the people "pushed behind by Covid" were added to the "left behind poor", but there was not enough support for them.
He further suggested bringing the disadvantaged communities under the national vaccination programme on a priority basis in partnership with the private development organisations and public bodies working with them.
The study, conducted from the perspective of 'leave no one behind' (LNOB) - a central, transformative promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), suggested that a pro-LNOB preparation is needed for post-Covid recovery.
Dr Debapriya also said the new figure brought back some sanity in the GDP growth estimations, endowed credibility to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), and restored the rules of business regarding preparing national accounts of the country.
The study paper mentioned that the final GDP growth rate figure, provided by the BBS for FY 2019-20, was 3.51 per cent - lower than the targeted (8.2 per cent) or even revised (5.5 per cent) rates.
"This is in line with the post-budget criticism by the Citizen's Platform for SDGs," he noted.
The BBS released the final GDP estimation for FY 20 almost a year later, and also the provisional GDP estimation for FY 21, which was usually released before the end of a fiscal year and quoted in the budget speech.
According to the BBS provisional estimation, GDP registered 5.47 per cent growth in FY 21.
Dr Debapriya opined that it would go down further later.