Published:  08:23 AM, 11 June 2024

Finance minister paid attention to oligarchs' opinions: Zillur

Finance minister paid attention to oligarchs' opinions: Zillur
Economist Hossain Zillur Rahman addresses a discussion on the status of the country's economy and the proposed national budget for 2024-25 fiscal year at a hotel in the capital on Monday.     -Agency

Economist and adviser to a former caretaker government Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman alleged that finance minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali has paid attention to the oligarchs or looters who have thrived under the shelter of power in preparing the national budget for 2024-25 fiscal year.

He said this while addressing a discussion on the status of the country's economy and the proposed national budget 2024-25. Newspapers Owners' Association of Bangladesh (NOAB) and Editors' Council organized it at a hotel in the capital on Monday. Hossain Zillur Rahman said the provision to whiten black money has been kept with them (the oligarchs) in mind. At the same, not much discussion was held on reforming the economy and the banking sector, also thinking about the same group of people.

This economist alleged that the finance minister paid attention to three aspects. Firstly, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the IMF said this budget should not be too ambitious as the resources are limited. There has to be preparations for graduating from the LDC status as well. Secondly, he paid attention to the oligarchs. Thirdly, this budget is as usual. This means, the finance minister also paid attention to what the bureaucrats said so that their advantages do not get slashed. Hossain Zillur Rahman, also chairman of the Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) also shed light on the steps taken to resolve the ensuing crisis in the economy.

He went on saying- the budget size has been slashed to face the fragile condition of the macroeconomy. Almost all are in crisis because of the inflation. But the target to bring down the inflation rate to 6.5 per cent is not substantial. There is no strategy to curb the inflation rate. At the same time, there is no credible plan of action in the budget to face the challenges to job creation.

Hossain Zillur Rahman, also a social thinker, further said private investment is stagnant now.

The entrepreneurs of this country are ready to work hard but there is a lack of trustworthy environment. A 30 per cent tax has been imposed on the honest taxpayers while 15 per cent has been fixed for black money. He criticized the proposed budget and said though VAT rate for motorcycles have been raised, the luxurious car facility for the UNOs have not been curtailed.

Earlier, National Board of Revenue (NBR) Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem said at a post-budget press conference in the capital on June 7 organized by the Ministry of Finance that the opportunity to legalize black money was introduced due to businessmen's demands. He said, "The demand from the general mass was another reason to take the move." Responding to a question from journalists, the NBR chairman said: "There was a demand from the business community and the general public because some businesses could not show their legitimate assets due to audit-related reasons, which is why this opportunity has been given.

"Those who generate black money do not intend to use it in the economy; rather, it typically goes abroad. Black money is created for luxury and extravagance. Some money turns black during land transactions. Therefore, this opportunity has been provided to show those assets that could not be shown in returns, a practice that is also common in many countries."

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