Published:  03:38 AM, 16 June 2019

Budget ignores people, their rights, says Gono Forum

Budget ignores people, their rights, says Gono Forum Dr Kamal Hossain speaks at a press conference to express his party’s reaction to the proposed budget. -Mostafizur Rahman/AA

Gono Forum has rejected the proposed national budget saying it has been formulated to protect the interest of a handful of businesspeople and politicians, ignoring the people and their rights.

"This is not a budget for the people. We reject this budget," party president Dr Kamal Hossain told a press conference at the National Press Club in the capital convened to express Gono Forum's formal reaction to the budget for 2019-20 fiscal year.

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal placed the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, beginning on July 1, with an outlay of Tk 5.23 trillion (523,190 crore), giving maximum focus on infrastructure development.

Dr Kamal, who was a law and parliamentary affairs minister and closed aide of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, alleged that the people of the country were deprived of exercising their voting right in the last parliament elections.He said the press conference was convened to inform the people how much their interest is protected and ignored "so that they can play their due role as the owners of the country."

"We want people to get organized and be vocal about it. And we'll do whatever necessary for bringing a change in the government through a democratic process," the Gono Forum chief said. He said the budget will serve only the interests of the government, who has came to power through the December 30, 2018 election which was not free, fair and neutral.

Gono Forum general secretary Professor Reza Kibria said the budget fails to address the critical problems of the widening inequality, poverty and unemployment. "The macro economy and the banking sector are not protected in the budget," he said. Both Dr Kamal and Reza Kibria said the new budget protects the interest of a handful of businesspersons and political activists at the cost of the rest of the nation.

"This is the first time in the last 45 years that the national budget is given by a businessman of the country.  Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal is basically a businessman and he designed the proposed budget to serve the businessmen and politicians," Dr Kamal said.

"This short-sighted and poorly-designed budget has failed to address the real problems facing the nation," he said adding that the budget favors those looting the country and siphoning off money. Reza Kibria, son of slain former Awami League finance minister Shah AMS Kibria, said the budget of the current 'unrepresentative' and 'unelected' government neither reflects the will of the country's citizens nor does it seek to meet the needs of the nation.

"So, it is vital that free and fair elections be held without delay to elect a government that will have a genuine mandate from voters for running the state affairs," he said.Reza Kibria said the government needs the confidence and support of the country's people to take difficult steps needed to overcome the difficult economic challenges that lie ahead.

"Banking sector of the country is looted by the loan defaulters and owners of the banks," he added.Analyzing the budget, the Gono Forum general secretary said it has failed to provide realistic estimates of revenue and borrowings and has not taken into account the large deviations of outturn from the budget estimates in recent years.

He said the budget has demonstrated a lack of understanding of the risks posed by the looming financial and economic crisis brought about through imprudent and macroeconomic policies of the past few years and the systematic neglect of governance and supervision issue in the banking sector.

"All the indications are that the economy will soon face the impact of microeconomic mismanagement of the recent past. This budget shows a lack of comprehension of the real and present dangers facing the economy," Reza Kibria observed.He said unproductive expenditures must be curtailed and some tough decisions that go against the interest of some powerful quarters need to be taken.

The Gono Forum leader said the official estimates of GDP growth are being questioned by many economists who have noted the "puzzling weakness" in import and revenue growth figures for the past few years.Other senior leaders of Gono Forum were present at the press conference.

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