The budget proposal was unveiled to parliament two days before World Environment Day and two days after World Ocean Day. In the proposed national budget for the fiscal year 2022-23, the government increased the allocation for environmental protection, but it is insufficient. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has been allocated Tk 15 billion in the budget, which was Tk 12.22 billion in FY 21-22. By 2030, the country’s funding and technological resources have been used to set a target of lowering carbon-dioxide emissions by 6.73 percent, with steps taken to make all existing and newly developed sectors environmentally friendly. The government is trying to ensure that by 2041, renewable energy would account for 40% of total energy resources. To develop climate resilience, the ‘Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan’ proposes investing US$80 billion by 2030. According to the projected budget, the investment will be funded internally and externally.
The budget this year encourages the usage of polythene and plastic. This is the environment’s black part. In the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2022-23, the finance minister has recommended lowering the additional duty on polythene. The finance minister has requested that the 5% extra charge imposed on all types of polybags, plastic bags (including oven plastic bags), and wrappers in the previous fiscal year be repealed. In 2002, Bangladesh became the first country to outlaw the use of plastic bags. However, the country’s consumption of polythene has climbed rather than decreased. Between 2005 and 2022, its use has more than tripled. The budget for this year is bad news for the environment. All polythene bags, plastic bags (including oven plastic bags), and wrappers have been exempted from the existing 5% extra duty. The price of polythene bags in the country is projected to drop as a result of this. The use of polythene and plastic will increase, resulting in increased pollution. Bangladesh is among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of plastic and polythene consumption, according to World Bank research released this year. In Dhaka, 80 percent of them are dumped in the ground after one use. Bangladesh is now ranked sixth in the world for plastic and polythene pollution entering the sea via rivers. Every year, 17,000 tonnes of thin plastic and polythene fall to the ground in the country. It got mixed with soil and water in 73% of cases. According to the science journal Lancet, more than two lakh people died in Bangladesh in 2019 as a result of pollution. Bangladesh was placed 180th out of 180 high-risk countries in the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) in 2020. The funding for the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change, on the other hand, is insufficient. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has recommended a total budget allocation of Tk. 1,501.26 crore for the fiscal year 2022-23. Previously, Tk 1,221 crore had been set aside for the fiscal year 2021-2022. This is a reduction of 25 crore from the previous fiscal year (2020-2021). The ministry was given a budget allocation of Tk 1,246 crore for the fiscal year 2020-2021. The allocation for the preceding fiscal year (2019-2020) was Tk 1,496 crore. The budget allocation for the Ministry of Environment and Forests for the 2016-2017 fiscal year was Tk 1,650 crore. It was reduced by Tk 831 crore to Tk 1,119 crore in the following fiscal year. The budget for the environment was increased by Tk 150 crore to Tk 1,260 crore in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
To promote the domestic solar industry, the government has suggested a tax on imported solar panels. The idea calls for a one percent import duty on imported solar panels. Imposing a higher tax on solar panels is detrimental to the environment; this may impede solar panel sales and use, because we do not have enough solar power related industry yet. Solar power is the conversion of solar energy into thermal or electrical energy. Solar energy is the most abundant and environmentally friendly renewable energy source. Solar technology can harness this energy for multiple purposes, such as generating electricity, providing light or a comfortable interior environment, and heating water for residential, commercial, or industrial use. This sector is important for our future prosperity. When the longest beach in the world is dominated by plastic pollution and polythene taxes are cut, there is a possibility of an increase in plastic debris on the beach. The government has repeatedly discouraged the use of plastic, citing significant environmental impacts. In contrast, numerous studies have identified plastic in foods such as fish, salt, and sugar. That poses a grave threat to human health. As the amount of polythene continues to rise, our marine environment and entire ecosystem will be threatened.
It is important to discourage the usage of single-use polythene. Plastic is today not only destructive to the environment, but it also has direct negative effects on human health. Therefore, we must all reduce our use of plastic. However, if the price of polyethylene lowers, so will the costs associated with its use. There are also costs associated with the disposal and processing of plastic garbage, which will rise as usage increases. While global efforts are being made to reduce the usage of plastics and polythene, cutting the price of plastic products in the budget is a short-sighted move. This action will harm our traditional agricultural products, farmers, and the agricultural industry. It will hopefully be re-evaluated in the amended budget. In order to decrease environmental impact, biodegradable items should be pushed.