02 Jun 2023, 21:53
Update : 02 Jun 2023, 22:15

Budget is people-oriented, criticism is usual: Hasan

DHAKA, June 1, 2023 (BSS) - Information and Broadcasting Minister and Awami League Joint General Secretary Dr Hasan Mahmud today said this year's proposed budget is poor-friendly and mass-oriented whereas criticism regarding the budget is usual.

"The criticisms over the budget are always conservative and conventional. Many are busy criticizing the budget without paying heed to it properly. This year's proposed budget is poor-friendly and mass-oriented," he said.

The minister expressed this reaction while exchanging views with journalists at his official residence at Minto Road here.

Dr Hasan said that this budget, the 15th consecutive budget of the Awami League led government and the 20th under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is almost nine times larger than that of fiscal 2008-09.

"...Which is undoubtedly an indication of the progress and prosperity of the country," he added.

Due to global recession, war in Ukraine and dollar crisis, the formulation of the budget was a big challenge, he said, adding that still, this year's budget is about 1 lakh thousand crore more than last year.

Stating that social safety net programmes have been increased in the proposed budget, he said that 16.18 percent of the total budget has been allocated to the social safety net sector.

It has been proposed to bring more people under the purview of the social safety net programme and increase the amount of various allowances in this sector, said Hasan.

Noting that the allocation is increased for health and education sectors in the budget, he said the most significant aspect of this budget is that the first universal pension scheme is being introduced in this financial year, which is the brainchild of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

No political party has proposed such a universal pension, he said.

"You know the demands of BNP," he said, adding that they (BNP men) have no demands regarding the people of the country. 

They always make demands on issues like Khaleda Zia's health and Tarique Rahman's punishment as well as his release, he said.

Anyone between the ages of 18 and 50 can come under the pension scheme by contributing for ten years, the information minister said, even if the age goes over fifty, there is also the opportunity to get pension by contributing to ten years.

Replying to a query about 'Bangladesh's tax-GDP ratio', he said Bangladesh's tax-GDP ratio is the lowest in South Asia.

In the last 14 years, the GDP of the country has increased almost ten times and the budget has increased almost nine times whereas the rate of income tax has increased only three times, he mentioned.

In 2009, around 11 lakh people gave income tax whereas last year, around 29 lakh people paid income tax, he added.

"But, at least two crore people in the country are able to pay income tax. But people don't pay taxes. So increasing the scope of tax is not unreasonable," he continued.

About BNP's statement 'This budget is about looting as per the prescription of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)', Awami League Joint General Secretary Dr Hasan Mahmud said before proposing budget, BNP's Finance Minister Saifur Rahman rushed to the Paris Consortium for seeking help of IMF so that he could present the budget as per the prescription of IMF.

At present, the budget of Bangladesh is not dependent on foreign aid in any way, the minister said, adding that a little more than 1 lakh crore foreign loans will be taken in this budget.

"BNP is the world champion in looting. They made the country champion in corruption five times in a row. Hearing complaints of looting on their lips brings smile on the face," he added.

Mentioning that the private research organization Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) called the budget unrealistic, the information minister said in last 14 years, CPD could not appreciate the budget.

"This year, while the budget proposal session is ongoing, they (CPD) said that this budget is ambitious and it could not be implemented," he added.

But the average rate of budget implementation in Bangladesh is 97 percent, he said, adding that if the value of the dollar had not increased, the country's per capita income would have exceeded three thousand dollars.

"During this time, the country's GDP increased, poverty decreased from 41 percent to 18 percent," he said.

"They don't see these. In fact CPD has to show their expertise and it is their job to find mistakes. This is how they get funds from various sources. That is why they cannot appreciate," he said.

Regarding the criticism of the Workers' Party President Rashed Khan Menon over the current budget, the minister said there will be discussion and criticism on the proposed budget.

"And we always welcome positive or constructive criticism," said Dr Hasan.


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