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Budget for FY12 not people-friendly

Staff Correspondent: Economists, lawmakers, business leaders and experts at a post-budget conference yesterday said the proposed budget for the next fiscal year was not people-friendly.

The government should ensure political stability for achieving desired outcome of the budget for fiscal year 2011-2012, they said. The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a private thing tank, organised the seminar titled “State of Bangladesh Economy: analysis of the National Budget fiscal year 2011-12” at a local hotel.

“The present bureaucracy is not capable to fully implement the development programmes,” the speakers also said urging the government to give more attention to industrial sector for ensuring optimum GDP growth. Former finance minister M Syeduzzaman moderated the conference. Executive director of CPD Mustafizur Rahman presented the key note paper.

Awami League presidium member Dr Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir attended the dialogue as chief guest and former commerce minister and BNP leader Amir Kahsru Mahmud Chowdhury was special guest.

Former Finance Advisor AB Mirza Azizul Islam, MCCI president Amjad Khan Chowdhury, Dr SK Osmani and Dr Mustafa K Mujeri participated in the dialogue as panellists.

Member of parliaments, business leaders and civil society representatives took part at the discussion.

Syeduzzaman said that the ministers and lawmakers should make the practices of visiting other constituencies besides their own ones.

He also that the government usually undertakes infrastructure projects as per the lawmakers’ desire, but after implementation those remain left out.

Former finance adviser of the last caretaker government Mirza Aziz Islam also expressed concern over the deficit financing as the banking sector is facing severe liquidity crisis due to this.

“Deficit financing from banking sector usually does not hamper the private sector credit as the deficit remains below 5 per cent of GDP,” he said adding: “It would create crowding out of private sector credit for banking sector.”

He said extra efforts will be needed to address the huge food subsidy. “It’ll be a big challenge to arrange the subsidy.”

BNP leader and former commerce minister Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury said that the devaluation of local currency Taka will be stopped if the Bangladesh Bank takes a prudent measure to reduce huge deficit balance of payment.

“If the central bank fails to reduce the deficit BOP, then it would further devalue local currency Taka, which might touch Tk 80 per dollar,” he feared.

He also expressed concern over deficit financing. “It’s big issue. Where liquidity crisis is there, the borrowing by the government will definitely create problems.”

Amir Khosru said there was no rescue measure in the FY 2012 budget proposal for the capital market. He expressed doubt over the increase in investment volume, an essential tool for job creation and overall growth of the economy.

Khosru criticised the government for depending on private sector to provide utility services. “It will increase costs of business.”

Dr Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir said achieving the desired level of industrial growth is a must for rapid development. Incentives should be given for raising productions in the industries.

Dr SK Osmani, professor of Brac University said that the government should reduce borrowing from banks as currently it is borrowing to repay previous interests.

Dr Mustafa K Mujeri said there are possibilities and challenges are there too. “Success depends on how effectively these two are coordinated,” he added.

He said more importance should be given to the industrial sector as it is the driving force of growth. Mujeri expressed dissatisfaction over the lower contribution of private sector to the national uplift programmes. “We’re continuously lagging behind. The role of the public sector will have to be enhanced further. It will be a big challenge.”

MCCI president Amjad Khan Chowdhury also opposed the proposed 1.5 percent tax at source on exportable goods. He said this should be reduced. He also demanded reduction of furnace oil price.

Hasanul Haque Inu said there was no reflection of Digital Bangladesh in the proposed budget, even in the previous two ones.

He said the government failed to control the market of essentials during last two years but there was no touch stone in the budget to control the market. Inu said good governance and political stability are urgently needed for the development and the opposition party should sit across the table for resolving any problem.

Hafiz Ahmed Majumdar MP said the investment of untaxed money should be allowed for the betterment of the country. “We need investments. The country will be benefited if untaxed money is allowed to invest.”

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