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Bangladesh: Third Of New Budget To Shield Poor From Soaring Prices


Officials in Bangladesh say one-third of the new budget will be used to fight soaring food prices that have left the country's poor vulnerable.

Finance Adviser Azizul Islam said Monday the new, nearly $15 billion budget will increase monthly stipends for the poor when it takes effect July 1. He also said the government would sell three million tons of rice at a subsidized rate, and that in some cases it would be given away for free.

Food prices in Bangladesh have risen dramatically following last November's deadly cyclone Sidr, which also destroyed about two million tons of rice.

About 10,000 textile workers rioted near the capital, Dhaka, in April to protest rising food and other commodity prices. Last month the United States announced it would give Bangladesh about $40 million in food aid.

Officials say Bangladesh's new budget will offer other measures designed to help the country's poor, including a program to pay for two million unemployed people to work for 100 days.

However, the country's finance adviser says the new programs are coming at a cost. He says spending on health, education and infrastructure will have to be cut.

He also says the deficit is expected to rise by about five percent.

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