Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday presented parts of the national budget as Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal fell sick halfway through his speech.
This was the first instance in the country’s parliamentary history where a prime minister, though partially, unveiled the budget.
Hasina will also appear at today’s press conference on the national budget, on behalf of the finance minister, at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre at 3:00pm.
The press conference, an event held the day after the placement of the budget, was supposed to be attended by Kamal, but due to his ailments, the PM will be attending the briefing, according to her daily schedule.
The finance minister yesterday entered the parliament straight from a city hospital where he was admitted with high fever a couple of days ago, sources at the parliament secretariat said.
Kamal started presenting the national budget for 2019-20 at 3:07pm.
After reading out the budget speech for around 40 minutes, the finance minister looked exhausted. He was struggling to speak clearly.
From the beginning of his speech, senior Awami League MPs Matia Chowdhury and Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim were seen helping him read out his speech.
At one stage, Kamal sought assistance from the prime minister, also Leader of the House.
He also asked for the Speaker’s permission to allow the PM to read out the rest of the budget speech. As the PM also sought her permission, Shirin Sharmin gave her the floor.
“If the Speaker allows it, I can read out the budget speech as much as I can,” the PM said.
As Hasina began the speech, she said both she and the finance minister had been suffering from same illness.
Earlier on Sunday, the PM in her press conference at the Gono Bhaban said she had been suffering from a fever. The weekly cabinet meeting on Monday couldn’t be held due to her illness.
Hasina started delivering the rest of the budget speech at 4:10pm and continued till 4:40pm.
At one stage of reading out the speech, the PM and MPs began smiling, when Hasina read, “I thank Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [for allocating money for bringing new educational institutions under MPO].”
The PM then said, “Honourable Speaker, I am just reading out the speech of the finance minister,” to which the Speaker replied, “Honourable prime minister, you should read all the words, including those praising the prime minister.”
After the budget speech by the PM, the finance minister placed the Finance Bill 2019-20 before the House.
Around 4:45pm, the Speaker adjourned the session until 3:30pm Sunday.
This is the first budget of the Awami League government in its third successive term and also the first one for Mustafa Kamal as finance minister.
Earlier, President Abdul Hamid authenticated the national budget and the revised budget to be placed before the Jatiya Sangsad.
The new budget envisages collecting Tk 377,810 crore as revenue in the new fiscal year.
A 15-minute documentary highlighting various economic developments of the government was shown through a multimedia presentation before the beginning of the budget speech.