Experts on Monday said that the government should ensure equal distribution of resources in the upcoming national budget to reduce the economic disparity prevailing in society.
The philosophy of formulation of the budget is to redistribute resources but there is concentration of resources to some sectors in the budget, they said at a pre-budget discussion jointly organised by Bangla national daily Prothom Alo and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh at the ICAB Council Hall in the capital.
‘Accumulation of resources, distribution and implementation are the main aspects of the budget and the government has to go through the processes to implement the sustainable development goals,’ said Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue.
He said that the SDGs must be implemented through reducing disparity in income and distribution of resources.
Mustafiz said that the government should emphasise developing special economic zones for attracting foreign and local investment.
He suggested that the government should develop at least one SEZ as model so that investors become encouraged to invest.
Mustafiz suggested restructuring the incentive rates for various export sectors and extending bonded warehouse facilities beyond the readymade garment sector.
He requested the government to prevent illicit financial outflow.
Faruque Ahmed Siddiqui, former chairman of the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission, said that required investment was not taking place in the country due to lack of good governance.
‘If we fail to ensure good governance, economic development might lose its pace,’ he said.
Faruque suggested simplifying the income tax-related laws.
Former ICAB president Kamrul Abedin said that the government should reduce tax for an investor on the condition that he/she would reinvest his/her profit.
He suggested that the government should make investment in manpower saying that every year country was losing $5 billion for importing skilled manpower.
Syed Almas Kabir, president of the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services, said that the government announced tax holiday for the software exporters up to 2024 but they were not getting the waiver due to various complexities.
He demanded issuing exemption letters to the exporters up to 2024 at once as the exporters have been facing trouble in getting the letter issued every year.
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan demanded allocations for effluent treatment plant in tannery, pharmaceuticals and textile sector.
She demanded allocation for solar power plant, alternative bricks and jute sector to prevent environment pollution.
Rizwana said that the government should incorporate plans in the budget against river grabbing and bring order in the transportation system in the city.
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies senior research fellow Nazneen Ahmed demanded an increase in the allocation in the budget for small-scale women entrepreneurs.
‘High interest rate on bank loans cannot ensure business-friendly environment and the government should take initiative to reduce the interest rate,’ she said.
Emphasising transparency and accountability, former National Board of Revenue chairman Md Abdul Mazid suggested that the government should involve people in the process of budget formulation.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Md Siddiqur Rahman demanded that the loan defaulters should be brought to book saying that the whole business community would not bear the responsibility of wrongdoings by some people.
He said that the government should exempt the RMG sector from all types of tax as the sector earned 43 per cent of the total export earnings and created job for 44 lakh people.
‘If you do not pay taxes, you cannot demand security of your business and wealth, you cannot demand electricity and infrastructure,’ the Planning Commission member Shamsul Alam said.
He said that allocation for the social safety net would be increased by Tk 10,000-11,000 crore in the coming budget and the number of beneficiaries would also be raised.
Shamsul said that the budget would not be an election budget, rather it would be a pro-people budget as the government was emphasising the development of rural infrastructure in the coming budget.
The budget would ensure quality expenditures and the transparency and accountability of allocations, he added.
Former caretaker government adviser Rasheda K Choudhury demanded investment in human resources and emphasised rules of law.
She also demanded an increase in allocation for education saying that the allocation for education remained 2 per cent of the gross domestic product for last 18 years and it should be increased.
Prothom Alo associate editor Abdul Qayyum and ICAB president Dewan Nurul Islam also spoke, among others, at the programme.
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