Remittance is not a magic and the inflow of remittance will never come to an end, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said while responding to a question after chairing two separate meetings on the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) and the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP) on Wednesday.
Earlier on Sunday, Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said remittance inflows dropped 28% in the first month of the 2021-22 fiscal year that indicates that the magic weaved by remittance all these years for Bangladesh may be over soon.
In this connection, the finance minister alleged that a vested quarter had been advocating against the incentive offered by the government on remittances through the formal channel when it was introduced in 2019. "They commented that the high remittance flow was temporary and that it would not be sustainable."
Highlighting some figures of remittance inflow, Kamal said before the incentive was introduced, the inward remittance flow in FY19 totalled $13.1 billion, but, after the introduction of the incentive, it soon got momentum and the inward remittance totalled $18.2 billion in FY20 and $24.78 billion in FY21.
"But, they (critics) will say that much more remittances have come and it was not right," he said adding that the interested workers are going abroad despite the pandemic availing various facilities extended by the government.
The finance minister said more Bangladeshi workers would go abroad once the Covid-19 situation comes to normalcy worldwide.
He told the media that the country received $567 million in remittance in the first nine days of this month, compared to $450 million fetched in the same period last year.
"The growth in remittance is still there. So, I'm doubtful about the patriotism of those who say that the time of remittance has come to an end."
Replying to another question about the attainment of projected GDP growth target in the current fiscal year, the finance minister expressed his optimism about the attainment despite the pandemic.
He said although the provisional estimation of GDP growth for the FY20 was 5.24%, it came down to 3.51% in the final calculation. The rate was the highest in Asia.
Extending his heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the countrymen for such a feat, Kamal said many countries of the world suffered negative growth in that fiscal year. "In overall consideration, our position was at the top in Asia," he added.
The Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase on Wednesday approved a proposal to procure a total of 60 million doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines from China.
Joining the briefing on a virtual platform, Cabinet Division Additional Secretary Md Shamsul Arefin said the CCGP meeting approved nine proposals including three separate ones for procuring 90,000 metric tonnes of urea fertilizer.
Committee approved a proposal from the Energy and Mineral Resources Division to appoint G Thomas (TOM) West Jr as the legal consultant for five years with spending around Tk5.59 crore to provide legal support to Petrobangla for importing LNG.
In another proposal from the Bridges Division, China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) has been appointed for five years for operations and maintenance of the Bangabandhu Bridge with around Tk172.61 crore.
The National Curriculum and Textbooks Board (NCTB) will collect some 76,42,071 textbooks of both Bangla and English versions for classes one and two for the 2022 academic year from Kochua Press and Publications Ltd, Ma System Computers Printers and Packaging, Krishna Traders, Bartopa Printers Limited with around Tk18.33 crore.
Prior to the CCGP meeting, the meeting of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was held virtually with Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the chair.
The meeting approved a proposal from the Secondary and Higher Education Division to procure digital classroom content by the NCTB under the DPM method to conduct the curriculum activities of students through online or digital methods to fill up the gap of the usual method.
Besides, the CCEA approved a proposal of the Health Services Division to purchase PCR test kits, antigen test kits, VTM with swab stick, PCR lab consumables, and CPAP and BiPAP machines under DPM method on an emergency basis to save the lives of the Covid-19 affected patients.