Bangladesh has unveiled a $16.5 billion budget for the next fiscal year
-- the first budget of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's new
Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith unveiled the spending plan to parliament Thursday, saying the global recession had hit Bangladesh's economy hard on three fronts: exports, imports and remittances. He said the government has vowed to create jobs and raise civil servants' pay as it works on initiatives to ease the impact of the economic downturn.
The finance minister also told lawmakers he expected the gross domestic product to grow at least 5.5 percent during the fiscal year that will end in June of 2010.
Opposition party lawmakers were not present for Muhith's speech. They are continuing a boycott of parliamentary proceedings over a seating arrangement dispute.
Prime Minister Hasina took office in January. An army-backed interim government had ruled Bangladesh since 2007, when the military intervened to end violence between supporters of Ms. Hasina's Awami League and the rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party.