>budget 2008-09: economy tuned to social charity

>More than a budget document that addresses three key areas for any economy inflation, growth and employment the finance adviser on June 9 unveiled a plan that smacks of social charity. (Read full report)
It is a short-term full-hearted programme to cast the social safety net wide, which was necessary for the present day crisis. In non-development expenditure, the adviser plans Tk 16,932 crore for social safety net, Tk 13,648 crore for subsidies and Tk 10,253 crore for salaries of teachers and doctors. But in doing so he misses many other exigencies and leaves unexplained areas like how to feed the furnace of such a high spending budget. Even why and how this social safety net amount will be spent is not clear although he has mentioned many new programmes. The largest outlay, as it seems, is Tk 2,000 crore for a new programme called 100 Days’ Employment Generation.
In the end, the crucial issue that would determine the success of this ‘social charter’ is the capability of the revenue departments to generate money. What has been lacking in the budget is any clear direction that the efficiency of the public administration would be enhanced for both making the social goals achievable and the revenue target achieved. It is indeed a big question in terms of implementing the piffling development expenditure.
The finance adviser has proposed a 38 percent increase in non-development expenditure and 21 percent increase in revenue expenditure. Such increases were necessary in view of the huge subsidy he wants to slop around, sometimes as necessary steps and sometimes from the notion of populism.
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