In the draft budget, GDP growth for the next fiscal year has been estimated at 8.2%
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday said the draft budget is a public welfare oriented budget, and the proposed fiscal measures and allocations would propel the economy to benefit people in all walks of life.
“This is a public welfare oriented budget,” she told the conference, packed with newsmen, bureaucrats, ministers, members of parliament, and politicians.
“This budget of Tk 5,23,190 crore has been proposed to meet the targets for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
The PM in her inaugural speech said she cares little what researchers or critics say about the proposed budget, but cares much about the reaction of common people.
“I care about people. We have proposed a huge budget to make the country self-reliant and poverty- free. Nobody brands us now as a beggar nation.”
in response to a specific question about CPD
Responding to a specific question about CPD, Hasina said to a post-budget press conference gathering at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre: “There are some quarters in our country who never see any good in anything. It is a sign of sickness.”
Sheikh Hasina says the budget will not face any risk in repaying its loans, since the interest rate on foreign borrowing and debt financing in the budget, worth Tk 63,848 crore, is minimal.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Thursday unveiled in parliament, a Tk523,190 crore national budget proposal for FY2019-20.
Kamal in the draft budget sought to create jobs for 30 million people by 2030, increase the tax to GDP ratio to 14% from the current 10% within the next two years, and attain a double digit GDP growth in four years.
The Tk523,190 crore budget outlay has forecast revenue earnings of Tk377,810 crore, up by 17.92% from the revised target in the outgoing fiscal year.
The finance minister proposed investing in economic zones and high-tech parks as a means to making black money white by paying a 10% tax surcharge on their investment, no questions asked.
In the draft budget, GDP growth for the next fiscal year has been estimated at 8.2%.
At the briefing, the Prime Minister elaborated on the budgetary measures and allocations for infrastructure, agriculture, and industrialisation.
She took a number of questions on the proposed budget.
Money whitening facility
Responding to a question, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the money whitening facility has been proposed to invigorate investments. With the proposed offer, investments will be made in Economic Zones and High-tech parks to create enough jobs.
“Undisclosed money sometimes becomes black money. Many governments in the past have offered the same facilities,” she said.
“We have offered the facility so that money is not siphoned off and invested in the informal economy.”
Black money holders have to pay an extra 10% in taxes to avail the money whitening facility she said, adding that honest taxpayers would not suffer for the proposed budgetary measure.
“Let me first get the money (black money) back in the formal economy. I don’t know where they have stashed the money,” Hasina said.
Responding to a question on the means and preparations to keep a promise made in the draft budget about creating jobs for 30 million people by 2030, Hasina said: “ We have promised to create jobs, not committed to provide jobs.”
She said the draft budget has made enough allocations for vocational training and technical education. With the skills acquired in training, jobless youths can find jobs, or launch their own business ventures said Hasina.
Elaborating on the issue, the prime minister said the economy has enough job opportunities, as evidenced by the shortage of farm labour, even with a daily payment of Tk 500 and meals.
“We are developing 100 economic zones so that people get work,” she said, adding that no country can provide jobs for 16 crore people.
Soaring non-performing loans
The Prime Minister reacted strongly when a reporter raised a question on the skyrocketing loan defaults in the banking sector, and failure of the government to arrest the trend.
“You should first find the newspapers and electronic media owners who took out the bank loans, and did not repay,” Hasina said.
Arguing the subject further, the prime minister said the major reason for the soaring non-performing loans is the method of calculating compound interest rates on loans and advances.
“It is a weakness in our banking system. Now we have undertaken measures so that defaulters can repay their loans without much pressure.”
Online news outlets
When a reporter from an online news portal sent a written question to the prime minister, she enquired : “Are the on-line news portals registered?”
“It is not fair. You first get registered, then ask questions.”
Bank loan interest
Responding to another question, Sheikh Hasina said many private commercial banks did not comply with the pledges they had made to lower bank interest rates, despite availing some fiscal benefits.
“We will take a tough stance on implementing the lower bank interest rate formula,” she pledged.
RMG, agriculture, start-up
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the post-budget press conference said the budget has proposed a 1% incentive for apparel exports. The budget has proposed a Tk 2,825 crore allocation for the sector. She says the budget has proposed a 20% cash incentive for the export of agricultural products, while Tk 100 crore has been proposed for start-up funding.