Bloated budget fails to reflect politico-economic realities: BNP

Dhaka,  Wed,  20 September 2017
Published : 12 Jun 2017, 01:01:41

Bloated budget fails to reflect politico-economic realities: BNP

Some factors may put economy at 'major risk'
FE Report

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) sees some factors in the proposed new budget that may put country's economy at major risks for failing to match ground realities.

"The large-sized budget failed to integrate country's economic and political reality," BNP secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told a press conference Sunday, elaborating on party's reaction over the budget for financial year (FY) 2017-18.

He contended that to make development visible to people, money is being misused by spending two to four times, and scope is being created for rent seeking or corruption.

"Based on previous experiences, we can say that this budget is non-implementable," he said at the press conference in BNP chairperson's Gulshan office, ten days after the Tk 4.0 trillion-plus budget was placed in parliament.

Mr Alamgir said it's a budget to fool the people. "It's a budget to cheat people."

He said the government wants to implement the mega-projects by next fiscal year with political motives, and that's why it imposed high tax on people. "The government will use these projects as tools for political publicity before the next election."

The former ruling party pointed out that the non-development expenditure in the proposed budget is 10.8 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) while the development expenditure is only 7.4 per cent. The proposed budget gave importance to non-development expenditure, which is a "matter of concern".

It also noted that the government wants to collect resources 1.3 per cent equivalent of GDP from the banking sources to meet budget deficit, which may raise inflationary pressure.

The BNP expressed grave concern over price hike of rice, especially coarse rice, which was threatening food security of common people.

The government has failed to ensure availability of rice at Tk 10 per kg, an election pledge of the party in power, Mr Alamgir told the journalists.

He alleged that the government was exaggerating statistics to show higher growth.

The opposition party outside parliament finds the state of country's public-sector banks very poor.

"Billions of taka was looted from the banks. Even money was looted from the central bank's reserves the probe report on which was not made public. People want to know who the government wants to protect by not publishing the report," Mr Alamgir said.

He also noted that the government is silent about the large sums being siphoned off the country. There is no visible step to bring the money back.

"The country lacks good governance," he said about his party's viewpoint.

Terming the tax measures in the proposed budget regressive, Mr Alamgir said the system is not pro-people.

The new value-added tax (VAT) rate, introduced in the proposed budget, is high among the South and Southeast Asian nations.  The finance minister kept a long list of VAT-exempted products to fool the people, the BNP leader said, adding that people do not consume a significant number of these products even once in their entire life.

Mr Alamgir criticised the finance minister for raising excise duty on bank- account balance which will discourage people from keeping money in banks. People will feel encouraged to use non-formal channels or sending money abroad, he said.

He criticised the twin slogans set out in the budget documents: Bangladesh on Development Highway: The Time is Ours.

But, he noted, the development highway is full of potholes and one may meet incident while going through it.

Making budget bigger does not mean it will be good one, Mr Alamgir said.

The BNP alleged an unelected government has no accountability to the people. This budget is not acceptable to them.

BNP standing committee members Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Abdul Moyeen Khan, Nazrul Islam Khan, and Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury were among others present on the occasion.
Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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