Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Bangladesh Thursday announced a BDT 1.138 trillion national budget for the fiscal year (FY) 2009-10 aiming to reduce poverty through creation of employment opportunities across the country.

“The budget for FY 2009-10 has been formulated bearing in mind the need to maintain macroeconomic stability in the context of current global economic meltdown, achieve the desired economic growth to fulfill our election pledge and thereby contribute to poverty reduction,” Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said in his speech while placing the country’s 38th budget at the parliament in Dhaka on the day.

The first budget of the Awami League-led alliance government prioritized agriculture, rural development and human resources development, industry and trade and social safety net in line with the ruling party’s election pledges.

The finance minister projected the gross domestic product (GDP) to grow at 5.5 percent in the FY 2009-10, beginning on July 1 this calendar year, lower from the current fiscal year’s revised estimate of 5.8 percent. Inflation in the coming fiscal is expected to ease at around 6.5 percent in FY 2009-10 from 7.0 percent in the current fiscal 2008-09.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was present at the budget session. Opposition leader Khaleda Zia remained absent as Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami have been boycotting the budget session following dispute over seating arrangement.

Mr. Muhith proposed allocation of BDT 21 billion for the Public Private Partnership (PPP) program aiming to increase the flow of investment from both local and foreign investors.

“In fulfillment of the strategy for attaining prosperity the government has attached priority to massive employment generation, enhancement of social safety net, creation of self-employment, reduction of regional disparity, increasing emphasis on agricultural development, achieving the target of power generation, acceleration of industrialization and building necessary infrastructure for ‘Digital Bangladesh’,” the finance minister added.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-12June09-2:47 am (BST)