Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged the authorities concerned to expedite the formulation and implementation of various projects under the Government to Government (G2G) initiatives.
She gave the directive while chairing a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) as its chairperson held at the NEC conference room in the city's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan said the prime minister put emphasis on expediting the process of formulating and implementing G2G projects with different countries like India and China as Bangladesh has agreements with those countries under their lines of credit.
Sheikh Hasina said there should not be any delay or negligence in this regard as these initiatives would enhance the foreign currency flow to Bangladesh, said Mannan.
The planning minister said the prime minister also asked the Planning Commission to prioritise foreign-funded projects considering the current situation.
He said the day's ECNEC meeting approved a total of 18 projects involving an overall estimated cost of Tk 11,387.91 crore. "Of the total project cost, Tk 7,445.34 crore will come from the government of Bangladesh portion, Tk 80.78 crore from the concerned organisation's own fund while the rest of Tk 3,861.79 crore as project assistance."
Of the 18 approved projects, nine are new while nine are revised projects. Besides, the meeting approved the time frame extension of a project without raising its cost.
Mannan said the prime minister reiterated her call to all concerned to maintain austerity in all spheres and boost domestic production side by side not keeping idle an inch of land.
Turning to the issue of containing inflation, Sheikh Hasina underscored the need for conducting research as there are differences in the price of commodities in various markets and kitchen markets.
She also put emphasis on setting up regional storage arrangements for perishable items like onion and ginger.
The planning minister said the prime minister has acknowledged the current rising inflationary trend and the shortage of power and energy in the country resulting in load-shedding.
He said the utmost priority of the government is now containing inflation and bringing the power and energy situation to a tolerable level.
Referring to his earlier prediction that inflation would come down, Mannan said, unfortunately, it did not come down, rather increased, for which the government would do whatever necessary such as using its available instruments to contain it.
He said the very first strategy of the government to contain inflation would be not to let it increase further and then try to roll it back.
Answering a question, he said it is not right that inflation is increasing in the country only because of the high exchange rate of US dollars, but there are some other reasons also.
He said efforts are going on to conduct trade with other currencies other than US dollars, adding, "The foreign currency is now hovering over $30 billion, but it might again go up to $50 billion."
Referring to the budgetary target of containing inflation at 6 per cent in the next fiscal year (FY24), Mannan said there might be some concerns about attaining this target, but having such a target ahead is not wrong.
"We will have to take proper action in a speedy manner...we will have to hold the trigger tight and take the necessary market intervention at the proper time," he said, citing an example of the recent decision of importing onion to tame the high price of onion in the local market.
Noting that inflation is gradually coming down in the EU, Mannan said although it would be hard to bring down inflation to around 6 per cent in the coming days, sincere efforts would be there to bring down inflation.
"We will have to keep the process [supply chain] smooth and ensure that no destructive element can hinder the process. Otherwise, it will be hard to contain it despite putting in the highest efforts."
At the very outset of the meeting, the ECNEC thanked the prime minister, the finance minister and the Finance Division and others concerned for placing such an excellent budget for the next fiscal year amid global uncertainties.