'The people are not a burden, they are assets. The youth are not consumers, they are the producers of the country. The government has to use them. The quality of education and creation of employment need to get importance in the budget'
The proposed budget for FY19 is not favourable for equity and inclusive development said speakers at a budget reaction discussion on Monday, as there was insufficient attention given to the education, health, employment and communication sectors.
These remarks were made a roundtable discussion tiled “Proposed Budget 2018-2019: Citizen’s Thoughts,” organized by Sushasoner Jonno Nagorik (Sujan) at the VIP Lounge of the National Press Club in Dhaka. Former Bangladesh Bank governor Dr Salehuddin Ahmed read the key note paper at the program.
Dr Salehuddin Ahmed said: “The proposed budget is to appease some specific classes only. There is no cause for amazement in the proposed budget. It is very large in size, but not implementable.
“The budget was not made for the general people. As a result, the rich will become richer and the poor will become poorer,” he added.
He said that the budget failed to address economic discrimination and did not further the scope for creating employment, adding that it was made with one eye on the upcoming national election.”
He further added that the level of allocation for some sectors including education, health, roads and transportation, should have been looked at seriously in the budget.
With the focus on mega projects, small and medium sized projects would be left aside, although a majority of people would be benefitted from the latter two.
“We thought the budget would be a sustainable development one, but there is nothing like that. Good governance is very important to tackle corruption, but did not receive much importance in the budget, nor did the banking sector get importance, though its condition is now very poor for various reasons. The growth target of 7.8% will not be achieved in the fiscal year.”
Sujan President and former adviser to the caretaker government M Hafizuddin Khan said: “The general people are happy to see a big budget, but they don’t know its hidden issues. It is like an illusion.”
“Developed countries of the world follow direct tax, but we stress on an indirect tax system. As a result, the poor are being penalized. The allocation for education is also decreasing, and though the GPA is shooting up, eyebrows are being raised at the quality of education.” he added.
He also claimed that the government was not listening to advice from experts, as they ignored criticism of the Rooppur nuclear power plant and the Rampal coal-based power plant.
Sujon Secretary Dr Badiul Alam Majumdar said: “The people are not a burden, they are assets. The youth are not consumers, they are the producers of the country. The government has to use them. The quality of education and creation of employment need to get importance in the budget.”
He also criticized that the tax free income limit was not increased from Tk2.5 lakh, as it was not difficult for middle class people to earn such an amount now.
Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder, Chairman of Financial Excellence Limited Syed Abu Naser Bukhtear Ahmed, Independent directors of Dhaka Bank Limited, Gono Songhoti Andolon convener Zonayed Saki, and several others also spoke at the discussion.