1. I seek your kind permission to place before this august House the proposed budget of FY 2016-17 and the supplementary budget of FY 2015-16.
Introduction and Background
2. At the very beginning, I remember with profound respect the greatest Bengalee of all times, the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I pay tribute to the valiant martyrs who made supreme sacrifices in the language movement of 1952, the mass upsurge of 1969 and the glorious war of independence of 1971. With heavy heart, I recall the family members of Bangabandhu and others who embraced martyrdom on 15th August, 1975 and the four national leaders for the great sacrifice they made for the nation. I also recall those who sacrificed their lives for democracy during the movement against autocratic regime along with those who succumbed to recent mindless arson attacks. I deeply sympathize with the families of those who were killed by cowardly and secret attacks carried out by the evil fundamentalist forces.
3. Let me begin my speech by sharing a piece of good news. Thanks to our relentless efforts, real GDP growth this fiscal year is going to reach the seven percent mark finally surpassing the six percent growth trajectory. Not only that, despite global economic adversities, Bangladesh has made remarkable strides towards socio-economic progress during the last seven years. With increase in per capita GDP, poverty declined significantly during this period. At the same time, we achieved enviable progress in many social indicators. Specially, in terms of human development index, we are now at par with the countries having per capita income twice as big as ours. As a result of stable economic growth, Bangladesh has graduated to the status of lower middle income country. These achievements are attributable to the courageous and visionary leadership of the Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Her development philosophy inspired by the struggles, sacrifices and experiences of long political career, in fact, mirrors the hopes and aspirations of the common people. Despite the tragedy in her personal life, she showed exceptional resilience by turning grief into strength and became a role model dedicated to the welfare of the people. This has been recognized internationally on different occasions. She has also been included in the list of 50 international leaders published by the 'Fortune Magazine' who are playing vital role in making the world a better place. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate her for all these achievements.
4. In order to make budget making process more participatory and transparent, like previous years, I had a series of dialogues with the honourable standing committee members of parliament, renowned economists, professionals, business associations, NGO leaders, farmers, journalists and secretaries of all ministries and divisions. I would like to express my sincere gratitude for their opinions and suggestions. The officials of the Finance Division and other ministries/divisions have always been involved in the preparation of the budget. I take this opportunity to thank them for their relentless efforts and continuous cooperation in accomplishing this challenging and colossal task successfully. Above all, I am grateful to the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for reposing her unwavering trust in me and for her invaluable guidance and advice in taking the budget process forward.
5. I turned 83 in January this year. Personally, it is a matter of great joy and pride for me to have the opportunity of placing ten national budgets altogether in the Parliament including the proposed one. Of which, eight budgets have been formulated during the tenure of the government of the Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. I am especially grateful to the Hon'ble Prime Minister for giving me this opportunity. I had the opportunity to formulate two budgets for the government of former President Hussain Muhammad Ershad 34 years back, for which, I express my gratitude to him also
Stepping towards the Sustainable Development Goals
6. You are aware that last year was the terminal year for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It is pleasing to note that among the Least Developed Countries Bangladesh has achieved significant progress in many MDGs. In particular, we have fully attained the targets in reducing poverty gap, poverty rates as well as the number of children suffering from malnutrition, ensuring gender parity in primary and secondary education, reducing under-five child mortality rate and preventing various diseases including HIV and tuberculosis. Besides, substantial progress has been made in ensuring primary education enrolment, reducing child and maternal mortality, expanding the coverage of immunization and preventing contagious diseases.
7. In continuation of the MDGs, in the 70th UN session 193 countries including Bangladesh adopted the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) containing 17 goals and 169 targets. It is noteworthy that we played a key role in formulating these goals and targets. Initially, it is our delegation, led by the renowned economist Dr. Kazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, who first crafted 11 goals; the agreed 17 goals are offshoot of that proposal. We have incorporated the SDGs in our 7th Five Year Plan. In this regard, ministry/division-wise goals and targets have already been identified. Formulation of action plan to implement the SDGs is underway. The Principal Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office is the convenor of the SDG Implementation Committee. I feel that effective channeling of resources and monitoring requires alignment of SDGs with ministry/division performance indicators within the Medium Term Budgetary Framework. These performance indicators should also be included in the Annual Performance Agreements of ministries/ divisions.
Priorities of the 7th Five Year Plan
8. Implementation of the 7th Five Year Plan has already started. In formulating this document, priorities have been given to mainly three issues. Our first priority is to accelerate growth, reduce poverty, and create employments. Along with involving people of all strata in the development processes, we are giving emphasis on adopting broad based inclusive strategies to ensure that nobody is left behind/deprived of the development fall outs. Finally, we have adopted a development roadmap which attaches importance to sustainable use of natural resources, efficient management of urbanization processes and achievement of disaster resilience.
9. People of Bangladesh are, indeed, exceptionally resilient. Bangladesh is marching ahead disproving the initial pessimisms propagated at home and abroad at the time of its birth. Boundless spirit and diligence of Bangladeshi people and their ability to brave challenges, however, proved the skeptics wrong. Once thought impossible, economic development of this country was achieved through effective leadership and strategies along with spontaneous development of the private sector. Real GDP in the country grew consistently by around one percentage point each decade, branding Bangladesh as a 'Development Surprise' to rest of the world.
10. Now, it is the right time for accelerating and consolidating the momentum of growth. In the first place, we need to ensure that pace of growth is never slowed down. Progress can be achieved by preserving political and economic stability and ensuring continuity in current development activities. The main challenge is inadequate employment generation. Answer to this problem is ensuring higher growth and in tandem, ascertaining fair distribution of income growth to establish an equitable society. This is, by no means, an easy task. Hence, attention should be given to securing social protection. Another indispensable development strategy is prevention of environmental pollution and preservation of overall ecological balance. Our strategies regarding these issues will be presented in more detail in the latter part of my speech. I firmly believe that we will march ahead by effectively implementing these strategies resulting in growth in production of goods and services, on one hand, and improvement of working environment and preservation of ecological balance, on the other. We - a nation replete with tremendous zeal and energy - will soon reach a new dawn of possibilities.