The finance minister was briefing reporters virtually after holding a pre-budget meeting for the next fiscal year with leading economists of the country
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Sunday said that the areas and sectors which are associated with the lives and livelihood of common people — rural infrastructure, agriculture and health — would get priority in the next budget for FY22.
“We will have to ensure 100% service delivery of the health sector through utilizing its resources in full capacity,” he said.
The finance minister was briefing reporters virtually after holding a pre-budget meeting for the next fiscal year with leading economists of the country.
Eminent economists Professor Rehman Sobhan, Dr Wahiduddin Mahmud, M Matiul Islam, Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, Dr Atiur Rahman, Dr Mohammad Tareque, Dr Mahbub Ahmed, Dr Zaidi Sattar, Dr Ahsan H Mansur, Dr Mustafizur Rahman, Dr Jamaluddin Ahmed, Dr Naznin Ahmed and Professor Atiqul Islam, among others, took part in the pre-budget meeting.
Answering a question, Kamal said the entire world is now going through a crisis owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the next national budget would also be framed considering that.
He said the next budget would be formulated accommodating those issues which are dependent on the international arena, adding that the next budget is unlikely to be a usual budget, rather it is likely to be a budget of “exceptional times.”
Kamal said if possible, the suggestions and proposals of the leading economists would be considered and incorporated into the next budget.
Asked about the possible measures of the government to support the low-income group people who are hit hard during the countrywide lockdown during this pandemic situation, he said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself is looking over the matter and she will do whatever is necessary for that.
Replying to a question about the low tax-GDP ratio of the country, Kamal acknowledged that the ratio is still low compared to other countries, but he noted that the ratio could have been higher if the government could realize tax from all the sectors and sources.
“We do not collect tax from many areas as we give concessions and exemptions…We do not impose tax on many government projects like megaprojects, for which the tax-GDP ratio cannot be increased to the extent it is supposed to,” he said.
Kamal, however, noted that if tax is imposed on the development projects to a wider scale, then the project cost would increase as would the pressure on the common people.
He said they have suggested the government for pursuing expansionary monetary policy so that everybody could get support while the lives and livelihood of people remain intact.
Referring to the speech of the prime minister to increase the capacity and coverage of the health sector and also to ensure its service delivery, he said definitely sufficient funds would be allocated against the health sector in the next budget so that the common people would get qualitative service.
“Necessary directives will be there in the next budget in this regard.”
Asked about the opinion from the economists regarding the existing provision for whitening the undisclosed money, Kamal said they wanted to know whether those who are paying tax legally feel discouraged under this existing provision.
The finance minister asserted that the source of the undisclosed money should have to be stopped, but it would not get stopped in a single day, rather more time is needed.
“Discussion is going on and we will stop this [source of undisclosed money] as early as possible,” he added.
Replying to another question about the possible corporate tax cut of the companies, Kamal said that the government is gradually reducing tax at both individual and corporate level and it would be further reduced gradually.
He said that tax at corporate level was slashed in the last budget while it is likely to be reduced slightly in each budget.
The finance minister said the aim of the government is to further strengthen the domestic industries, especially there will be some measures in the next budget for the import substitute industries.