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Dhaka Tribune

ED: A budget which must break with tradition

This means paying special attention, first and foremost, to health, social protection, and employment generation

Update : 09 Jun 2020, 12:00 AM

The Covid-19 pandemic has threatened to send our economy into a tailspin, and so the challenges for the national budget this year are unique and unprecedented. 

Countries the world over are struggling with the economic implications of Covid-19, but the fact is, the challenges for Bangladeshis are steeper than they are for developed nations, who have the resources to absorb much of the shock.

To that end, it may be necessary to break with tradition, and as the Centre for Policy Dialogue has recommended, it may not be possible to go with the 5% deficit this year. 

The main challenge here is financing the budget, because of the shortfall that will ensue from revenue generation. Pockets are tight, and this is the time to go into rescue-mode. It is not the time to send over-ambitious, unrealistic messages.

The budget must hone its focus, and boil its priorities down to handling the immediate crisis at hand. As has been pointed out, we cannot afford to think in terms of normal business cycles, or recession -- now is the time to think about saving lives and averting tragedy on a mass scale. 

This means paying special attention, first and foremost, to health, social protection, and employment generation.

Being hasty about jump-starting other aspects of the economy could be a decision that we later regret. This current budget does not need to pander to the priorities of previous years; some sectors can wait until times are better, but as we have seen, the coronavirus will wait for none. We must not dilute our focus. 

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