Budget revision: Govt wants ministries to stick to original outlay

Officials fear higher deficit even with current spending

JASIM UDDIN HAROON | Tuesday, 21 January 2020

The government has alerted its ministries and divisions to avoid spending beyond the original budget allocations as resource mobilisation becomes slower.

The push comes at the meetings on budget revision being held at the Ministry of Finance.

The finance division has started revising the budget for the current fiscal year and the exercise will draw to a close in the first week of next month. The meetings began a few days back.

"Our main message to the ministries is to keep budget spending within the original size as the government will not be able to afford extra spending amid poor revenue collection," an official familiar with the development told the FE on Sunday.

Each year, the finance division organises such meetings where it considers all categories of expenditures to get new estimates of the budgets. Such estimates help the division get an idea of preparing the next budget.

He also said the government has so far decided not to go for austerity measures as it may impact the growth of gross domestic product.

"We are in favour of higher GDP growth and austerity will drive down growth," he said.

But he feared deficit would widen even if the current level of government outlay remains unchanged.

If the revisions go upward, it requires parliamentary approval.

The parliament had passed the supplementary budget amounting to Tk 151.7 billion for 2018-19 fiscal year to meet the increased expenditures of different ministries and divisions.

The official said some divisions and departments have been ratcheting up pressure on the Ministry of Finance to increase allocations.

For example, the Air Force is asking for at least Tk 800 billion to maintain its fleet.

He said there will be no additional fund for conducting the Dhaka city polls since adequate resources have been earmarked.

"We usually set aside funds to meet unforeseen events in the economy. We utilise those in later part of the fiscal year," another official familiar with the matter told the FE.

The National Board of Revenue's (NBR's) tax collection as of October was Tk 651 billion, down by over 31 per cent of the target it set for the first four months of the fiscal. During the first four months, the total expenditure was Tk 1.13 trillion.

Of the figures, the recurrent expenditure that includes wages and salaries stands around 50 per cent of approximately Tk 580 billion.

[email protected]