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Dhaka Tribune

Muhith: HRD, social sector to get high priority in next budget

Update : 07 Apr 2015, 06:16 PM

Finance minister AMA Muhith yesterday said human resource development and social sector will get high priority in the new budget.

“In the past, the government spent a lot of money for road and infrastructure development. But this time, human resource development and social sector will get more priority,” he told a pre-budget meeting with the non-government organisations (NGOs) at the NEC conference room yesterday.

He claimed that both poverty and social disparity in Bangladesh is reducing as the government is seriously taking those issues into account.

Putting importance on “social protection” for the poorest shifting from the government’s earlier policy on “social safety-net” programmes to support the vulnerable group of the society, he said although the social protection is a broad thing, but the government has decided to take a policy shift from its previous policy to a new paradigm.

He firmly reiterated that there would be no more poverty in Bangladesh by 2030. Currently, the country’s poverty rate is 24% and the extreme poverty rate only 9-11%, according to the finance minister. In response to the sharp criticism raised by some NGO representatives, Muhith questioned about the environmental study done by different NGOs on impact of the proposed setting up of Rampal Power Plant near the Sundarbans — the world’s largest mangrove forest.

“I don’t think there will be a significant impact on Sundarbans. I was SDO at that area during my early job life at the civil service. I visited all those areas. I don’t think the plant site will be a cause of destruction to Sundarbans.”

About the possible impact of the Rooppur nuclear power plant in Pabna district, the finance minister said the government is taking maximum protective measures on it. “But it is not a perfect time to comment on the plant. It will take some few years to establish. Then, we can discuss more on it.”

Some NGO representatives attended the meeting opposed setting up the coal-based power plant at Rampal as they claimed it will have severe effect on the Sundarbans. They also expressed their reservation about the Rooppur nuclear power plant.

Environmentalist Abu Naser Khan said the Rampal coal-fired and Roopur nuclear power plants are a threat to the environment as well as the people in the area. He urged the finance minister to stop financing to such non- environment friendly power projects.

On genetically modified (GM) food, Muhith backed Bangladesh’s adoption of GM food saying a densely populated country needs more food to feed its huge population. “But at the same time, I am very cautious about the health hazardous element of the GM food.”

Urban planner Prof Nazrul Islam said the government should allocate more money for skilled manpower development and give special focus on the slum children. Ahsania Mission Chief Rofiqul Islam called upon the minister to enhance budgetary allocation for education, research and development. 

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