Sunday, October 20, 2019

Mustafa Kamal plans to change finance ministry, add new scopes

  • Zafar Ahmed,
    Published: 2019-01-06 22:49:27 BdST


Before taking charge as finance minister, AHM Mustafa Kamal has spoken of his plans to change the ministry by widening its scopes.

Kamal, who has been in charge of the planning ministry for the past five years, is assuming control of the finance ministry on Monday, which will bring the curtains down on AMA Muhith era of a decade.

“The finance ministry will not operate the way it had before,” Kamal told reporters in immediate reaction to his new assignment on Sunday.

He and 46 others of Sheikh Hasina’s new cabinet are going to take oath on Monday.

“The finance ministry will start a new journey with new scopes and it will start tomorrow. You will see the immensity and many new things,” Kamal added.  

While forming the government in 2008, Hasina entrusted the finance ministry with former bureaucrat Muhith. An English Department alumnus of the Dhaka University, Muhith also has the experience of working in top international organisations.

“It’s my subject of study. So I can assure that I am not making any false promises. I won’t fail,” Kamal said.  

“We will take our economy to a much stronger position under the prime minister’s leadership if Allah wills,” he added. 

After 10 years in a row in the finance ministry, Muhith had said he wanted to retire. He did not contest in the election as well.

As speculations started over who the next finance minister would be, former Bangladesh Bank governor Mohammed Farashudin emerged as a strong contender for the job after seeking the ruling Awami League’s nomination to contest in parliamentary elections.

But he did not get ticket to run for parliament and the discussions swirled again after the party’s landslide election victory.

Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam ended all curiosities on Sunday afternoon by announcing the names of the new cabinet members.

Kamal, 72, has been elected MP from Cumilla four times.

A chartered accountant by training, he is also known as sport organiser.

He served as Bangladesh Cricket Board president for four years from 2009 and became president of the International Cricket Council in 2014.

He said Hasina’s guidance will drive his efforts to tackle the challenges facing the economy.

“We know our problems. It won’t be difficult to tackle them,” the minister said, adding that “challenges also bring opportunities to prove capabilities by meeting the targets”.  

“You’ll see that we have achieved more than 90 percent of what we had said we would do five years ago,” he said.

Bangladesh has earned international plaudit for its financial achievements in past 10 years. As the 42nd largest economy in the world, its GDP grew by 7.8 percent in the last fiscal year of 2017-18. Inequalities, however, have remained.

The government spent Tk 495.95 billion from the Annual Development Programme until December which is 27.42 percent of the amount allocated for the ADP in the 2018-19 fiscal year, according to Kamal.

He said the development work was not proportionate to the spending in the first six months of the financial year.

“But it is possible to achieve nearly 100 percent implementation by speeding up the work,” he added.

State Minister for Finance and Planning MA Mannan was also present at the news conference. He has been elevated as planning minister.