Next budget to focus on ‘Made in Bangladesh’, Job Creation: Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal

“Made in Bangladesh” and employment generation will be the focal points of the national budget for the forthcoming 2022-23 fiscal year, said Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Wednesday.

To this end, the government will facilitate the growth of all businesses – irrespective of large and small ones – through proper policy measures, but sectors having the potential for creating more jobs will get extra facilities, he added while briefing the media after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase.

“Our infrastructures are improving. The skills of businesspeople have also increased. We look to manufacture everything ourselves in the future. We have been implementing the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ strategy for over a year now. We will implement it for a long time.

Like China, Bangladesh also will make technological advancement,” he said.

The government will provide facilities to entrepreneurs, he said, adding the businesses, in return, will create employment opportunities after earning money and will also contribute to the government exchequer.

Asked about the government’s move to increase prices of gas, the finance minister said, “We had no idea that there would be a war between Russia and Ukraine. When an uncertain challenge arises all of a sudden, it becomes necessary [for the government] to take initiatives to deal with it. The Russia-Ukraine war is certainly a major factor behind the move to hike gas prices.”

Private think tank the Centre for Policy Dialogue recently reported that the government has the capacity to operate without raising gas and electricity tariffs and that commodity prices in Bangladesh are much higher than in other countries.

Replying to a question on the issue, Minister Kamal said there are no problems with government monitoring to keep the prices of commodities under control, but that the method the CPD follows is flawed. “It will be clear if we compare the inflation situation in Bangladesh with that in other South-East Asian countries, including India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.”

He went on saying while the inflation rate in Bangladesh had been hovering around 5.5% for a long time, the CPD was still talking about currency devaluation. “What would be our current rate of inflation if the devaluation was done as per the suggestion of the CPD?” he said.

5 power plants get time extension

The Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase on Wednesday approved a proposal to extend the tenure of five rental power plants by two years.

The five power plants are Khulna Power Company’s 40MW Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) based plant at Noapara in Jashore and 115MW HFO-based plant in Goalpara in Khulna, Dutch Bangla Power and Associates’ 100MW HFO-based plant in Siddhirganj in Narayanganj, Orion Power Meghnaghat Ltd’s 100MW HFO-based plant in plant in Meghnaghat in Naryanganj, and Summit Narayanganj Power Ltd’s 102MW HFO-based plant in Madanganj in Narayanganj.

The decision was taken under a “no-power no-pay” policy, said the finance minister, adding that the government would buy power from these plants only when needed.

Newly-built power plants in the country will add 3,000 megawatts of electricity to the national grid by the next year, then the government will no longer be required to buy electricity from the rental power plants, he continued.

Zillur Rahman Chowdhury, additional secretary to the Cabinet Division, said the tariff of electricity bought from the rental plants has already been brought down to Tk16.41 a unit, which was Tk17.53 earlier.

Besides, the cabinet committee on Wednesday approved the import of 33.60 lakh MMBTU LNG from Vitol Asia Pte Ltd, Singapore for Tk1,241 crore.

A proposal to import 50,000 tonnes of wheat forTk176 crore from M/ S Swiss Singapore Overseas Enterprises Pte Ltd, Singapore also got approval on the day.

 

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