Congenial political atmosphere must for budget execution: Experts

The government that will take office over the next fiscal will require to go through a congenial political atmosphere for a satisfactory implementation of the budget proposed for the period, political leaders and economists told a dialogue here on Saturday. Speaking on the occasion, leaders of the two main political parties as well as economists and business leaders also stressed the need for a consensus among the political parties on budget planning, implementation and on certain economic issues which the nation requires badly to achieve the targeted economic growth.
They observed that the ongoing political crisis in the country is likely to be a major constraint on implementation of the new budget.
Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), the country’s leading think tank, organised the dialogue on the proposed budget at a city hotel.
BNP chairperson’s adviser and former Education Minister Osman Farruk in his speech said that the nation needs to be united on certain economic issues if a sustainable economic development is to be ensured.
Criticising the culture of distancing the opposition parties from the budget planning, he said, “Consensus building among the parties before the budget is needed.”
Osman Farruk also observed that all governments should rethink the way the Annual Development Programmes (ADP) are planned for the fiscals.
“It has been observed that the governments, including the past BNP governments, plan the ADP as an assortment of a number of discrete projects… the projects under the ADP must be interlinked to have better results,” he said.
Farruk observed that the targeted economic growth as aspired in the proposed budget is not achievable mostly due to the decelerating trend of the investment-GDP and the investment-savings ratios in recent years.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Finance AHM Mostofa Kamal said the downtrend in the investment is largely influenced by the reduction of imports of capital machineries for the rental power.
He noted that the current political unrest is also influencing the decision for investment from the private sector.
Political parties must reach to an agreement not to do anything that can hurt the investment. “The businesses and both the parties in the government and in the opposition need to unite on certain grounds, for the interest of the economy,” he added.
Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) president Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed said: “Peace is the precondition for all sorts of development. We need political stability in the country, first and foremost, in order to boost the investment.”
In her keynote presentation, CPD research director Fahmida Khatun said: “Bangladesh has not been able to attain more than 7 percent GDP growth in the past. Attaining the targeted growth of 7.2 percent will critically hinge on raising investment-GDP ratio and lowering capital-output ration.”
“This will call for significant breakthrough in terms of resources generation, resource allocation, efficacy of resource use and efficacy of development administration. Will there be a appetite for all these in an election years?” she questioned.
United News of Bangladesh chairman Amanullah Khan suggested reducing tax rates which still remained high compared to the neighbouring countries in an effort to attract more potential tax prayers.
He added that if tax procedures were simplified and made more transparent, tax revenues would significantly increase.
”Though morally not tenable, the facility for whitening ‘black money’ should be extended to setting up productive industries and infrastructure and if possible the rate of tax on such money could be slightly lowered to induce more people to declare   their concealed income,” he said.
The UNB chairman also appealed to the Finance Minister to withdraw the proposal to impose additional duties on newsprint import as it would hit the newspaper industry and the print media hard forcing many of the newspapers to close down resulting in impeding the free flow of information access to which constituted a basic human right and a tool of human empowerment.
Chaired by CPD chairman and noted economist Prof Rehman Sobhan, the dialogue was addressed, among others, by former governor of Bangladesh Bank Salehuddin Ahmed and former chairman of the Privatisation Commission Enam Ahmed Chowdhury. (Source: UNB)

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