Bangladesh Knowledge Forum (BKF) expects Budget 2021 to build upon the gains and strengths of the Bangladesh economy and the robust and remarkable economic performance achieved in the past years. There is a need for further focus on knowledge-based approaches and efficiency-related tools and mechanisms, based on experiences with and lessons derived from implementing previous budgets and Annual Development Programs (ADB). BKF further proposes the forthcoming budget could be framed in a medium to long-term strategic framework compliant with the Eighth Five Year Plan and Perspective Plan strategies and perspectives.

BKF suggests prioritising sectors that would have a faster impact on post-pandemic recovery on one hand, and on the other, stimulate inclusive and sustainable GDP growth. The budget should ensure stronger support to Readymade Garments (RMG) exports and overseas remittance, and further aim at diversifying the drivers of growth and stimulating economic competitiveness, to enable Bangladesh achieve high-income status by 2041. In terms of allocation, for the current year, the following sectors should be attached priority - agriculture, health, ICT, education, social protection and safety nets, manufacturing, energy, and infrastructure.

In addition, the implementation of current mega-projects, and completion of Special Economic Zones (SEZ)s, SMEs, and IT Industrial Parks will add momentum to growth potential. Side by side, entrepreneurship, and investment promotion incentives should significantly contribute to increases in employment and incomes, support the further reduction of poverty and minimize inequalities in access to capital and essential commodities both in rural and urban areas. The stimulus packages should be enhanced to 8% of GDP with further efficiency in reaching out to targeted recipients.

The budget may envision GDP growth of 7.5% for the current year, keeping the budget deficit within 5.5% of GDP, focused thrust on domestic resource mobilization for achieving a tax-GDP ratio at 10%, with broader coverage, improved automation, extensive inter-agency coordination, and effective accountability. It is necessary to ensure the current recovery and stabilisation phases will continue to spur economic efficiency and broaden competitiveness. This will also facilitate a seamless transition to diversifying sources of growth and prepare the economy to steer the post-LDC graduation challenges.

For greater effectiveness and impact, it is necessary to upgrade current budgetary models and sector assessment, improved monitoring and evaluation tools, and strengthened project and program implementation. Moreover, resilient fiscal and monetary frameworks should be directed to sustained control of inflation and facilitate consumer access to both food and non-food essential consumer items. Addressing issues relating to debt management, weak disbursement, cost overruns, and expenditure rationalisation will ensure sustained economic resilience. This will strengthen the potential to effectively cushion external and internal shocks.