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Bangladesh - 2 weeks ago

IMF loan makes life miserable

Farhad Chowdhury: In order to implement the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions, the government increased the dollar, loan interest rates, gas, electricity and fertilizer prices. The prices of various goods and services including public transport have increased uncontrollably due to their influence. Subsidies have been reduced in various sectors. As a result, the prices of goods and services have increased in all those sectors. Contractionary monetary policy is being followed to control the rise in inflation. It has reduced economic activity.
As a result, investment and employment did not increase. It has not been possible to reduce the overall rate of inflation, on the contrary, it has more wind in its sails. People’s expenses have increased, but income has not increased.
As a result, the standard of living has decreased. In the midst of economic recession, consumers are burning with the IMF’s conditions. According to sources, Bangladesh has taken a loan of $4.5 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to combat the effects of global and domestic recession.
Two loan installments have already been waived. The government’s negotiations with the IMF mission on progress in implementing the conditionality and economic reform program before the release of the third tranche have ended.
The IMF mission worked in Bangladesh during 24 April to 8 May. At that time, they reviewed the progress in implementing the terms of the $4.7 billion loan given to Bangladesh and the steps taken for the economic reform program and expressed a positive attitude.
The release of the third installment of the loan depends on the report of this mission. However, before leaving Dhaka, the mission almost confirmed that Bangladesh will receive $115.02 million for the third installment of the loan. The IMF will release this money at the end of this month or at the beginning of next month.
On January 31 last year, the IMF approved a $4.7 billion loan in favor of Bangladesh to counter the effects of recession. On February 1 of that year, the first installment of the loan was repaid by $480 million. In December last year, it cleared $680 million for the second tranche. The government hiked fuel prices by 42 to 52 percent in 2022 before IMF loan talks began. As a result of this, the fare of public transport increased by almost hundred percent at the field level at that time. At the same time, the price of all kinds of daily commodities increases. Fertilizer, electricity and gas prices were increased in the same year.
The IMF responded quickly to the loan offer, considering the matter as positive. So far, most of the IMF’s conditions are in the process of implementation. In this, due to the implementation of some conditions related to public interest, the fire of the market has increased. It burns the consumer.
On Thursday, the central bank introduced a crawling peg system to determine the dollar’s price, according to IMF conditions. As a result, the price of the dollar in the banks increased by Tk 8 from Tk 110 to Tk 118. While this will be somewhat positive for export earnings and remittances, import expenditure and external debt will increase. Depreciation of the currency will increase the pressure on inflation. As a result, the consumer will be more stressed. In one day, the price of the dollar increased from Tk 117 to Tk 125 in the open market.
While implementing the conditions, the price of the dollar has been increased before, the value of taka has been reduced. In the last two years, the price of the dollar has increased from Tk 85 to Tk 118. But dollars are not available at that price. Importers other than exporters have to buy dollars before opening LC. Forward dollar prices have increased and are now being taken at Tk 125 to Tk 129 for various tenors.
In order to implement the conditions for the use of monetary policy to control the rise in inflation, the flow of money has been reduced and interest rates on loans have been increased. Investment has decreased due to reduction in money flow. The pace of setting up new industries has slowed. Employment growth has slowed. Due to reduced competition in the industrial and commercial sectors, production has decreased and prices have increased. The central bank announced a lending rate corridor in July to implement the conditions. Interest rate has increased under this. This has increased the cost of business and curbed the flow of credit. The cost of production increases the price of the product.
A year ago, the loan interest was as high as 9 percent. Now it has increased to more than 14.5 percent. Interest on public sector treasury bills has increased from 3 to 11 percent. This has increased the cost of government debt. As a result, the entire financial management has been under pressure to pay additional interest to the government. This money is collected by the government by taxing the people. The central bank is withdrawing from the interest rate corridor within 9 months of its introduction as the situation has gone from bad to worse. On the last day of every month from July, the central bank publishes the average interest rate on 6-month Treasury Bills. Based on this, the interest rate of the loan is determined.
As a result, interest increased every month. Sudhar Corridor was launched with advance announcement. Now, without any prior announcement, the central bank withdrew from this system from Wednesday. As a result, the loan interest rate will increase a little more. It will be effective from next month.
In this context, the former governor of the central bank Salehuddin Ahmed said that small and medium entrepreneurs have been the most affected by the adoption of the policy of reducing the flow of money. But these two sectors make the biggest contribution to GDP. Due to reduction in money supply in these two sectors, both production and employment have decreased. Inflation rate cannot be controlled by monetary policy alone. For this, concerted action should be taken. The behind-the-scenes syndicate to increase the price of products in the market should be broken.
According to sources, the prices of fuel oil, gas, electricity, fertilizers should be increased or decreased in coordination with the international market. To implement this, fuel oil prices have already been slightly reduced and increased. But it has no effect on the market. But the effect of the earlier simultaneous enlargement still remains. Fertilizer, gas and electricity prices have been increased several times. This has increased the cost of production. Due to this, the price of the product has increased.
The government has been providing subsidies in various sectors to help low-income people. The IMF has given conditions to reduce subsidies. To implement this, the government is reducing subsidies. In doing this, the price of gas, electricity, fertilizer, fuel oil has been increased. The price has to be increased in the case of distribution of products at low prices. As a result, state benefits for low-income people are reduced.
One of the conditions of the IMF is to increase tax collection. For this purpose, in the last budget, the revenue income has been targeted to increase by 10.5 percent of the GDP. In doing so, the tax burden has been imposed on the consumer. Pushing for tax exemption in the next budget. Doing so will increase the tax burden on the people.
Inflation was 5.5 percent in June 2021. Last March it increased to 9.81 percent. At the time of the loan waiver, the IMF said the loan would help reduce inflation and market prices of goods. In fact, the price of goods has not decreased, on the contrary, it has increased. Inflation has eased slightly and is now rising again.
$116 million received from IMF for two tranches of loan. This did not improve the dollar crisis in the country. The crisis remains. Inflation rate, the price of goods in the market has not decreased. Revenue did not increase during the economic downturn. But due to the implementation of their conditions, the prices of all goods and services have increased in the market. They are pushing for higher prices to reduce subsidies. If these are implemented, the price will increase further. At the same time, consumers will burn more in the fire of price increase.

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