Prime Minister and Leader of the House Sheikh Hasina yesterday proposed the finance minister to reconsider some aspects of the tax regime he placed in parliament for the fiscal year (FY) 2017-2018, Agencies report.
Taking part in the general discussion on the budget, the prime minister proposed continuing the import duty on rice in line with the decision taken by the government recently aimed at containing the rice price.
The prime minister also proposed exercise duty on bank deposit in three tires up to Taka one crore instead of the proposal placed by the finance minister in the next year budget.
The foremost important proposal submitted by the prime minister was to hold up the execution of the newly introduced VAT (amendment) Act-2012 for the next two years and keeping the existing VAT system for the period.
“The budget is for the people and we certainly don’t want the public to suffer because of the fiscal plan,” the prime minister said while placing the proposals in the House with Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair. “We feel proud to call the Awami League government as one of the regimes of development,” Sheikh Hasina said adding for the last eight years the Awami League government has enlarged the size of the budget and taken steps to strengthen revenue
collection as well.
The prime minister said Bangladesh has to stand on its own feet through increasing internal revenue collection. A begging nation has no dignity and after 45 years of independence the country cannot depend on others, she said.
The prime minister thanked the country’s business community, investors and cross section people for their help to build a tax, revenue and investment friendly culture in the country.
Sheikh Hasina said her government has created a revenue friendly culture by dint of constant efforts. People are now interested to pay tax and conscious people find one kind of ‘heroism’ in it as taxes are used for country’s development, she added.
However, the prime minister said the ratio of tax and GDP in Bangladesh should be higher as the present proportion is much low. So a mentality should be developed in people to pay tax, the prime minister said.
The prime minister said the budget is not only an account of income and expenditure of the government. Rather it’s a guideline of implementing our pledges to the people, she said.
The Awami League government since assuming office is making efforts to help the country standing on its own feet and lessen dependence on others. Bangladesh has come out of the vicious circle and now ninety percent of the country’s budget is implemented with own resources, she said. The prime minister thanked the finance minister for the excellent theme of the 2017-2018 budget-‘Bangladesh is on the Highway of Development: Time is Ours’- saying it’s a rare honour for a person as well as a history to have the opportunity to float such a budget in
Welcoming the warm and lively discussion on budget in the parliament, the prime minister said even the treasury bench members delivered speech criticising some aspects of the proposed budget which reflected the real practice of democracy in the country.
Sheikh Hasina said the parliament is the focal point of all national debates where parliament members have the liberty to take part in discussions on any issue. The prime minister said the highest budget of Taka 4,00,266 crore has been prepared to take forward the country towards development and achieve self reliance.
Sheikh Hasina said the finance minister has taken some steps for reforming the country’s financial system which was essential to go ahead keeping abreast with the global community.
The budget contains some unique features for modernisation of the public financial system, implementation of the new classification of the budget, introduction of local and universal pension system, making the existing public pension system more effective, digitalisation of land management, development of the stock market and strengthening the statistical and information management system.
The proposal made by the finance minister for introducing a government backed universal pension system is undoubtedly an important step forward to make a welfare country, she said.
The prime minister particularly thanked the finance minister for focusing the prospective adverse effects of climate change in Bangladesh and giving a guideline for financing the projects against the threat.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said country’s desired development is not possible without proper payment of tax by the people. The overall macroeconomic stability would remain stable with the proposed five percent budget deficiency, she said.
The budget deficiency would not be more than five percent of the total budget, she asserted saying the public debt would remain at an acceptable level creating no additional pressure on financial sector.
The prime minister ruled out the claim of a section that the country is reeling on unemployment. Joblessness has come down with creation of new employment opportunity, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government assumed office in 2009 amidst global economic recession. “Our pragmatic economic plan helped us keeping the economic growth over six percent which many developed country’s couldn’t show,” she said.
The unemployment rate has come down to 4 percent in 2015-2016 from 4.3 percent in 2013-2014, she said adding that unemployment is declining because of diversification of job opportunities.
Pointing out her government’s importance to the social security, the prime minister said the programmes for poverty alleviation, food security and creation of employment are contributing to increasing life expectancy of the people.
The rate of poverty was 38.4 in 2006 and now it came down to 22 percent. The extreme poverty rate was 24.2 percent in 2006 which now reduced to 12.9 percent.
The prime minister said her government has given due importance to education, health and other basic rights of the people and per capita income of the people has been increased.
The country is progressing ahead in every sectors including trade, agri production, investment, export, industrial development as well as earning of remittance and foreign exchange reserve, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said there is no shortage of rice despite hike of price in the market. The country now has stock of more than 1.06 crore tonnes of rice. So there is no possibility of shortage of food, she observed.
However, there may have role of a vested trader behind the price hike, she said adding that the government has already taken measures to keep the price under control. The lower trend of inflation is helping rural people getting the benefit of the economic development, she said.
The prime minister said works of all development projects ensured by the present government is going on smoothly. Construction of the Padma bridge would be completed within the stipulated time while other projects, including the works of Paira port is going on in full swing.
Sheikh Hasina said her government has cherished the goal for strengthening the rural economy. So all economic plan of her government revolve on the target to increase the income of rural people, she said.
Income disparity of the people in Bangladesh has been reduced due to improvement of the rural economy, she said adding that once the people of Bangladesh used to wear old clothes of the western countries. Now they wear new clothes and take full meal three times a day.
Many countries attained higher economic growth without addressing the issue of income discrepancies of the people. Bangladesh is an exception to this end, the prime minister said and hoped that with the ongoing pace of development Bangladesh would be able to attain its economic prosperity by 2021.