Another year, another budget. We are all watching the upcoming budget with unusual keenness since the economic situation is so fraught with peril, and the decisions made by the government this year on how to apportion government expenditure are likely to be far more crucial to the performance of the economy, and hence to the lives of the everyday man and woman, than at any time in recent memory.
Economically speaking, the government's record has been so far, so good. With two experienced and able ministers at the helms of the two ministries most crucial to the functioning of our economy, Finance and Agriculture, there is a palpable sense of a steady hand on the tiller, and the early indications have been promising.
The boro harvest has been well-managed, which ought to result in the price of rice, that ever-important indicator in this country, staying low, but at the same time should also ensure a decent return to our farmers.
On the economic front, the stimulus package unveiled by the finance minister recently has drawn plaudits across the board, and the authorities have thus far resisted calls to devalue the currency or take any other precipitate steps on the economic front.
Calm and commonsense seem to be the order of the day, and the result is that the economy has done well and the government retains the confidence of the people to navigate through the treacherous waters of the still-unfolding global financial crisis.
Of course, we cannot be too complacent, and this is why the upcoming budget will come under such close scrutiny. There is no room for error here, and it is important that the government gets the mix just right.
So far, our main export earners, readymade garments and remittances, have remained robust, prices of essentials have remained steady, even coming down, and the economy has continued to post growth close to the 6 per cent mark.
However, experts warn us that we are not yet out of the woods, and that there may well be a downturn either later this year or early 2010. With a looming power and water crisis, which will also need to be addressed, it is thus more crucial than ever before that the government gets this year's budget just right.