Lawmakers have continued to mount pressure on finance minister AMA Muhith urging him to withdraw the increased excise duty on bank accounts in the proposed national budget for the next fiscal year.
Taking part in a general discussion on 2017-18 financial year in parliament, lawmakers for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday lambasted the finance minister for proposing a hike in excise duty on bank accounts.
They also urged finance minister to reconsider his proposal of implementing uniform Value Added Tax rate at 15 per cent saying that it would cause price hike of essential commodities.
They also demanded money for inclusion of schools under Monthly Pay Order benefit in which government pays cent per cent salaries of teachers and employees of non-government schools.
Muhith, while proposing budget for 2017-18 fiscal year on June 1, proposed imposing the excise duty on accounts where the balance — whether debit or credit — would exceed Tk 1 lakh at any point of time during a year.
Muhith proposed to raise the excise duty from Tk 500 to Tk 800 on accounts with balance of over Tk 1 lakh and below Tk 10 lakh.
Jatiya Party lawmakers Pir Fazlur Rahman, Khorshed Ara Haque, Workers Party of Bangladesh lawmaker Tipu Sultan, ruling Awami League MP Amina Ahmed urged the finance minister to withdraw the proposed excise duty on bank accounts.
Pir Fazlur Rahman said that increased excise duty on bank account would be burden for all, so it should be scrapped.
Uniform VAT rate at 15 per cent would call in hike of essential prices, so it also should be reconsidered, he said.
He alleged that banking sector lacked good governance and was in grip of acute corruption.
He also claimed that finance minister was ‘guarding’ people involved in Bangladesh Bank reserve heist and share market scam by not taking step against them.
‘We do not see steps against anyone involved in the reserve heist. Only BB governor Atiur Rahman stepped down from his position and none other faced any punitive measure,’ he said.
Fazlur Rahman said that no action was taken against bank looters and loan defaulters, rather government gave several thousand crore taka to bail out the state-owned banks.
‘Huge amount of money is being plundered from banks and the money is being siphoned off the country. But the plunderers and the culprits are not being tried,’ he alleged.
Some Tk 73,000 crore was siphoned off the country in a year, he told the parliament, adding that second homes were being built with the money in Canada and Malaysia.
Government gave Tk 14,655 crore to bail out state-owned banks including scam-hit BASIC Bank and Sonali Bank in eight years.
Khorshed Ara Haque termed the budget ‘jugglery of figure’ which failed to meet the aspiration of people.
She said there was no need for election and proposed that the current prime minister should run the country for another five to ten years.
She also demanded that the current opposition in parliament be in the same position as it was now.
Tipu Sultan was sceptical about the government’s capacity to implement such a large budget.
He also demanded scrapping of excise duty on bank duties and flat 15 VAT rate.
Tipu Sultan and Amina Ahmed both said that uniform VAT would cause hike of daily necessary products that would affect the mass people.
Doubling of excise duty on bank accounts would affect small savers and it would increase capital flight, Amina feared.
Fazlur Rahman and ruling AL MP Abdul Majid Khan both demanded scrapping of VAT on meditation courses.
Majid Khan also demanded allocation of money for MPO inclusion of non-government schools.
At least 10 ruling and opposition MPs castigated Muhith for increasing excise duty on bank accounts during last three days in parliament.
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