The experts also called for increasing allocation for labour welfare and keeping a portion of industries’ or factories’ profit for workers.

Famida Khatun, executive director of CPD, chaired the discussion. Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of CPD, delivered the keynote presentation on the proposed budget.

Planning Minister MA Mannan joined the dialogue as chief guest.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Anisul Islam Mahmud, Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Finance Kazi Nabil Ahmed, and former commerce minister Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury attended the discussion.

Mannan said, “The government cannot slash incentives in different sectors suddenly. It will take time.”

“The government provides food assistance to the lower income groups through family cards and open market sale (OMS),” he said.

Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, who was the commerce minister of the BNP government, questioned the transparency of the government’s inflation and forex reserves data.

When the BNP was in power in 2007, according to the World Bank the score on country’s statistics was 70, which has come down to almost half of now. The government has been showing an inflated GDP rate through mechanism, he alleged.

Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury also questioned the legitimacy of the government. He said there are scopes to raise question on the budget proposed by an “unelected” government.

Responding to Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury’s remarks, planning minister MA Mannan said the word “unelected” Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury used has become cliché. “The government is not unelected, rather an effective government.”

He also called the BNP to shun the path of negative politics, adding that as long as they would remain engage in negative, the party would remain isolated from the people.

The Bangladesh Bank has so far disbursed $7 billion EDF loans from its reserves.

However, the International Monetary Fund said the central bank overstated foreign exchange reserves by showing the EDF with it.

At the dialogue, different NGOs urged the government to make the grant disbursement process, which also adds to the forex reserves, easier.

At present NGOs are receiving around $700 million as grant.

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