Poor would get priority in next budget, says Finance Minister



The next budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year will prioritize the poor while protecting the lives and livelihoods of all in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said on Wednesday.

“Our next budget will remain dedicated to the poor people of the country. The poor community will get priority in the next budget. We will also give priority to maintaining the lives and livelihood of the people,” he said.

The finance minister was replying to queries of reporters after virtually chairing two separate meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs and the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP).

Asked whether the government is expecting any trouble in the upcoming distribution of cash support or the prime minister’s Eid gift of Tk2,500 each to about 3.34 million poor families, Kamal said there were only delays last year.

The targeted marginal people of the country or the beneficiaries of such cash support are not tech-savvy or are not fully capable of receiving direct transfer.

“In such cases, some delays could take place… The decision of the government in this regard is to ensure direct cash transfer and we are working to this end. If the concerned system is fully developed and everyone comes under the system, then it will be possible to do much more work in less time,” he added.

The finance minister told a questioner that the prime minister is actively considering the matter and such financial support would be provided as soon as possible.

As per the decision of the government, around Tk834.73 crore would be distributed this time among around 3.34 million low-income people who have been affected by the pandemic with Tk2,500 per person of each family through mobile financial services.

Referring to the recent joint survey by Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) about the new poor, Kamal said the government accepts the data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS).

He said the BBS is yet to release any fresh data on the new poor owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and once they release, it would be made public.

The finance minister said the target of the government is to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and bring them into the mainstream society and economy. “We’re working tirelessly to this end,” he added.

The BIGD and PPRC survey findings showed that the economic shock induced by the pandemic has pushed 24.5 million people into poverty in one year.

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