Budget deliberately ambitious: Muhith

03 Jun,2016


Dhaka, BdChronicle:

Admitting that the Tk 3.40 lakh crore budget for the fiscal year 2016-17 is deliberately ambitious, Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Friday said the revenue target will be achieved through enhancing the efficiency of the National Board of Revenue (NBR).

"Yes, the budget is deliberately ambitious. But the revenue target will be achieved by improving the efficiency of the revenue body," he said.

The finance minister was addressing a post-budget press conference at the city's Osmani Memorial Auditorium. He was flanked by Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu and State Minister for Finance and Planning Abdul Mannan.

Muhith claimed that in the last seven years, as he is in charge of the Finance Ministry, the capacity of the National Board of Revenue has immensely been increased. "If the revenue target is set at a big figure, that's not a bad thing. But to achieve the 30-35 percent increased revenue target I have to do a lot."

He also defended the scope for allowing whitening of black money. "This is a regular provision of the law to revise a tax statement showing the undeclared money by paying a certain amount of tax. This will continue as long as Awami League is in power," he said, adding that they have no intention to change this provision.

Responding to a query about the idea of introducing pension provision for the private sector employees, the finance minister said this has remained merely an idea. "The government has not reached a final decision in this regard."

He informed that as per the government plan, there will be a contributory pension system where both the employers and employees will contribute to forming a pension fund.

The octogenarian finance minister said he will try to wrap up the matter at the end of the budget discussions in parliament.

 About the resentment of the RMG sector over the budgetary provision of increasing the advance income tax (AIT), he said he has learnt so far that the businessmen are not unsatisfied with the provision.

Admitting the necessity of booting the investment, Muhith said it seems there is a big push in investment. "Both local and foreign investments are going to be increased. Already $2 billion investment has come to the country. "Since there is no strike in the last one and a half years, local and foreign investment will be increased in the coming days," he said.

Asked why the government backtracked on proposing district budget, Muhith said the government had announced the district budget in the last two budgets as a 'test case' as part of strengthening the local government's capacity.

 "We wanted to see how the district administration performs in fund mobilisation and project implementation as a local body unit. That's why we had introduced the district budget provision. Now it needs the political decision to proceed in future," he said.

He, however, said there is no relation between the government's retreat and the current spate of violence in the Union Parishad polls.

Replying to another query on the fuel price adjustment, the finance minister said a process is still pending with the Prime Minister's Office after an adjustment this year. "But this has to be cautiously handled as fuel price is rising and it has already reached $50 per barrel."

Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said the implementation rate of budget in the last several years 90 percent on average.

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