Yes to black money is graft friendly: TIB

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Saturday said the proposed budgetary provision to legalise black money as an example of institutionalisation of corruption by policy capture.The graft watchdog body in a statement said, “TIB considers it as unconstitutional, immoral, contradictory to the government’s election pledge, discriminatory and an example of institutionalisation of corruption by policy capture.”
In the statement, TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekhruzzaman said, “Whitening black money as proposed in the national budget is against the spirit of article 20 (2) of the Constitution. It is immoral as it rewards illegal and corrupt behaviour and discourages honesty. It’s a clear violation of the government’s own electoral commitment.”
He said it also discriminates against honest customers of the real estate sector and would encourage people to take illegal path of earning income. “Not only is the government pushing the real estate sector to be captured by corruption, but sending out a message to society that the government is the protector of corruption and illegality.”
Iftekhruzzaman further said available evidence, including the Finance Minister’s statement, render any financial argument illogical and unacceptable for such a provision, as no substantial revenue has been earned as a result of the provision made over the years.
“Politics may indeed be a game of compromise, as the minister told the media, but if the core principles of honesty, constitutionality, equality of all and justice are compromised for politics, then politics will have nothing to do with public interest and democratic values,” Iftekhruzzaman said.
TIB is also disappointed that the opposition leaders who have criticised the provision have done so clearly for political mileage as they have refrained from specifically committing what their position would be in this regard if they are voted to power.
He further said, “The opposition has also behaved irresponsibly and immorally by absenting from the session on the budget day. They’ve indeed boycotted all previous budget sessions of the present parliament, and have once again taken the course of undermining their parliamentary responsibility and commitment to an extent that is equal to disrespecting people’s right and interest as voters.”
The Finance Minister rightfully called for attention of the nation to this in his budget speech and demanded the culture of parliamentary boycott be stopped. It remains to be seen if his party will continue to hold the same position if and when they have to take opposition seats in parliament, the statement said.
The highly ambitious budget may turn out to be a calculated game to win votes in an election year, it said.
Questions may be raised whether the government has been motivated in drafting the budget by a possibility that the burden of unmet implementation will be shifted to the election-time government followed by the newly elected government. “Whatever may be the election results, politically motivated response for implementation deficit may become readily available.”
It is encouraging that the minister restated the commitment to establish a corruption-free society.
His emphasis on the need to be “especially careful that in the name of combating corruption, anyone’s fundamental rights are not infringed” cannot be underemphasised.
“However, since concern for fundamental rights of any accused person is universal and equally applicable for all forms of law enforcement and justice, we’ve reasons to be concerned that such specific emphasis with relation to corruption control may send a wrong signal and create the space for undermining justice for partisan or other consideration,” the statement said.
Iftekharuzzaman further said, “We’re also concerned that allocation for such important sector as education has received lower priority than defence.
Question remains about justifications for such higher priority to the defence sector, particularly when there is no specific policy of national defence, and when openness in the use of defence budget is much lower than desired, which must be corrected to build the much-needed trust in the people”. (Source: UNB)

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