The finance minister did not take risks in this budget. It seems he wanted to make everyone happy. But the bigger risks remain. Unemployment is one of them. A reformation was a must to ensure increased investment, but it was just a continuation of the same old things, too banal.
We may say that it is a populist budget. It is not unexpected in an election year. Around Tk 180 billion has been earmarked for reconstruction of the schools and madrasas. It is a kind of a bribe before election, but it claims almost 4 per cent of the total budget. The MPs will oversee the allotment and we know what happens in such cases.
The finance minister has admitted that the size of the budget has been a matter of concern for five-six years. This year it was another big budget, but the reality is about 20 per cent of the budget remain unimplemented. Last year it was 21 per cent.
My estimation says this year<SNG-QTS>s budget is of around Tk 3,710 billion. But what do we get with this big budget? I believe three things are obstructing its full implementation.
The first one is the inability to handle such a big project. The projects are being undertaken without much thought about the funding and hence they remain unimplemented.
The inability to make the best use of the fund is the second thing. Say a project requires Tk 100, but they are spending Tk 1000 on it. In the Padma Bridge project we have overspent around Tk 14 billion. It is being mentioned time and again that the project is being funded locally. But what is the point of this when we see such mismanagement of funds?
The third is lack of knowledge to implement a project. The size of Annual Development Programme (ADP) has got reduced. There are not enough human resources. The finance minister probably is sincere, so is the most powerful person of the state. But the deputy secretary or the senior assistant secretary is probably dillydallying the process.
I blame it on political appointments. People are being appointed on political consideration and hence we do not have the quality required for such big projects.
The budget has suggested the new Universal Pension Scheme. It is a great initiative, but how will our bureaucracy implement this pension scheme when 87 per cent of the working people are from non-formal sector? It seems it will also remain only in words.
*This piece has been rewritten in English by Quamrul Hassan.