Senior ruling Awami League MPs came down heavily on finance minister AMA Muhith in parliament on Monday over the proposed hike of excise duty on bank accounts, flat VAT rate and his failure to curb corruption in the banking sector.
They said that proposal of increasing of excise duty and flat VAT rate at 15 per cent, have created panic among countrymen. They also observed that his too much irrelevant talking caused embarrassment for the government.
They came up with the observations while taking part in a general discussion on 2017-18 financial year in parliament.
Muhith, while placing budget for 2017-18 fiscal year on June 1, 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.
MPs who are also senior leaders of Awami League, also advised to ‘speak less’ and take action against people involved in corruption in the banking sector. They also called on Muhith not to reduce interest on the savings certificates in the proposed budget for fiscal 2017-2018.
AL MP Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, also party presidium member, said that Awami League does politics for the betterment of people. ‘But he [finance minister] proposed excise duty on bank accounts, which created confusion among countrymen’.
Scrap the proposal of increasing excise duty unless people will take a negative idea about party, he said.
Selim said that finance minister often makes comments that embarrass the party. ‘Talk less, You make comments that many times embarrass the party. I do understand, you have become old, and lose sense while talking’.
Finance minister has proposed reduce interest rate on the savings letters in line with International Monetary Fund suggestion to reduce interest rate, he said.
‘Finance minister once said Tk 4000 crore was nothing when these money was looted from banks. But now finance minister saying Tk 1 lakh is enough to be imposed for excise duty,’ he added.
Finance minister just proposes budget and 350 MPs decide which proposal would be taken or not taken. You [finance minister] would not decide that, leave your stubbornness,’ Selim urged.
AL MP Mahbubul Alam Hanif, also party joint general secretary, asked for why the excise duty on bank accounts and for which interest.
Government would get Tk 400 crore excise duty but it has aggrieved general people, Hanif said.
‘Bank money has been looted and bail out money is being provided to these banks,’ he said adding that government should immediately take actions against bank looters.
‘Finance minister has proposed flat VAT rate and providing bail out money to banks, whose money you are providing to,’ he added.
AL MP Abul Kalam Azad also demanded scrapping of increased excise duty on bank accounts and urged not to lower interest rate for savings certificate.
Savings certificate is source of livelihood of senior citizen of the country, so do not take away that, Abul Kalam Azad said.
‘You [finance minister] are carrying burden of loan defaulters, failing to save money laundering now burdening lower middle class with excise duty,’ he alleged.
Another senior AL lawmaker Rafiqul Islam said that eight to ten thousand crore of taka have been looted from banks, urged the finance minister to recover the looted money instead of increasing VAT.
He also demanded measures to amend Article 70 so that MPs can vote against the budget.
‘Then you will see that the finance minister will not be able to stay rigid in his stance. He [finance minister] will consider our suggestion,’ Rafiqul Islam said.
‘We just follow what the chief whip and other whips asked us to do during passage of the budget. Otherwise we don’t have any role in the budget. The finance minister will have to evaluate lawmakers’ suggestion on budget. Otherwise the budget process will never become transparent to people,’ he added.
He demanded that Muhith scrap the proposed excise duty on bank accounts and not to cut interest rate on saving certificates.
Article 70 of constitutions bars lawmaker to vote in parliament against that party otherwise they would lose their membership.
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