The government is contemplating the next fiscal year 2022-23 as its last year to overcome the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the budget document, the government will continue the initiatives taken to address COVID-19 and economic recovery in the coming fiscal year.
However, as the context of the crisis changes, it will change its priorities too, read the document.
As per the document, in the first year of the crisis, the priorities were to build the health sector’s capacity, provide food and humanitarian assistance to the low-income people who have suddenly become unemployed, and provide urgent assistance to sustain production and employment in key economic sectors such as the agriculture and the exports.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in his budget speech last week claimed that the government successfully tackled the challenges of the first year through the rapid expansion of specialised COVID treatment in government management, recruitment of additional physicians and health workers, and humanitarian assistance activities for low-income people.
In the second year, after the initial shock, the priority was shifted to bringing everyone under the COVID vaccine and supporting the industry and services sector to ensure economic recovery at a faster pace.
“We successfully achieved the target in the second year by bringing almost all citizens above 12 years of age under the vaccination programme and successfully implementing incentive packages for the industry and services sectors,” the finance minister said in his budget speech in Parliament on June 9.
Now, in the third year of the pandemic, as per the document, the priority will be to sustain the economic recovery by maintaining the trend of income generation and job creation and thus put the economy on a solid foundation.
Therefore, the government will continue to implement incentive programmes in the next fiscal year, the document stated.
At the same time, the government will provide all kinds of policy support to all the important sectors of the economy including banks, financial institutions, and business enterprises in the industrial and service sectors so that they can fully overcome the effects of the pandemic.
As per the document, considering the macroeconomic indicators, it is clear that Bangladesh has successfully overcome the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19.
In the first wave of the pandemic from April to May 2020, industrial production was somewhat disrupted, but from July 2020, it began to turn around sharply.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the monthly industrial production index returned to the pre- COVID level by November 2020.
During the second wave in May- August, 2021, industrial production was again somewhat stagnated, but in 2021, industrial production was able to maintain strong overall growth.
In the first eleven months of the current fiscal year (July- May), export earnings were US$ 47.17 billion, which is 34.09 per cent higher than the export proceeds of the same period of the previous fiscal year.
If this trend of exports continues, by the end of the year, the export revenue will exceed US$ 50 billion.
In tandem with the industry sector, the agricultural sector could very successfully maintain its productivity throughout the crisis.
With the assistance and incentives of the government in this sector, Bangladesh could achieve the target of agricultural production in those two years, which helped in ensuring food security in the country as well as keeping the rural economy vibrant.
Despite the prediction of experts that due to disruption of the main overseas labor market the remittance flow will decline, remittances continued to grow at a high rate, the document said.
In FY2020- 2021, remittances have achieved a record growth of 36.1 per cent, which has strengthened the foundation of the country’s economy during the crisis.
The cash incentives provided by our government against expatriate income have been an important catalyst for this success. Although the remittance income declined slightly from July- May of FY2021-2022 as compared to the same period of the previous fiscal year.
The document hoped that the remittance income will return to normal during the rest of the year.
The foreign exchange reserve rose to a record US$ 48.02 billion in August 2021 and is now at. US$ 42.11 billion (June 1, 2022).
From these data, it is evident that the economy of Bangladesh is moving towards definite progress despite the adverse impact of pandemic shocks, it added.
Another important factor behind the rapid economic recovery from the COVID pandemic is the successful implementation of vaccination programmes.
Commercial production of the COVID-19 vaccine began in the world in early 2021. The government announced that it will bring all the citizens of the country under the free COVID-19 vaccine coverage as soon as possible whatever the cost may be.
Despite various challenges in the global supply of vaccines, the government has been able to procure the required doses from various alternative sources and has been able to successfully administer two doses of vaccines to almost all citizens of the country above 12 years of age in just one year.
Bangladesh is currently in the process of providing booster doses.
There are two more important aspects of success in vaccination. The first is that the government did not allow any vaccine to be used in Bangladesh without the approval of the World Health Organization. This means that all COVID-19 vaccines used in the country are approved by the WHO as effective and safe.
The second achievement is that in the field of vaccination, it has been able to ensure equality between urban-rural, rich-poor, and male-female. About 50.1 per cent of the 258 million dose vaccines given so far have been received by the women of the country.
In addition, the government has been able to vaccinate marginalized groups such as the Bede community, the third sex community, and so on.
As a result of this widespread vaccination programme, the rate of infection in the country has dropped sharply, as has the rate of hospital admissions and deaths, the document claimed.
In addition, the health risks and the fear of corona among people have also subsided. The economic activities have thus returned to normal and the country has returned to the high growth trajectory, the budget document claimed.