Economists and allies of the ruling Awami League mocked finance minister AMA Muhith as he called them ‘stupid’ and ‘not patriots’ for criticising the proposed national budget terming it ‘anti-poor’ and ‘appeasing affluent class.’
They said that comments made by Muhith in a post-budget briefing on Friday were not dignified at all.
They noted that everyone should have mentality to accept criticism based on independent analysis for the progress of the society.
The Workers Party of Bangladesh, a component of the ruling AL-led alliance, in a statement on Friday said that the question of equality was ignored in the budget that only favoured the rich and the bank owners.
Party president Rashed Khan Menon, also the social welfare minister, said that Muhith often made such comments.
‘His [Muhith’s] comments hardly got attention in the AL-led alliance,’ he said.
Sharif Nurul Ambia, president of Bangladesh Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, another partner of the alliance, said that comment by Muhith was ‘unexpected and disappointing.’
He said that the proposed budget would help the rich to be richer and the poor would become poorer.
Centre for Policy Dialogue distinguished fellow Debapriaya Bhattacharya said he would not dignify Muhith’s comments with a reaction.
CPD, one of the country’s leading think-tank, has been most critical of the budgetary proposals.
In its budget analysis, the think-tank said that the proposed national budget for the next financial year 2018-19 would increase tax burden on low and middle-income groups of the society while it offered benefits to well-off people.
Policy Research Institute executive director Ahsan H Mansur said that he was not much surprised at the displeasure expressed by Muhith against the critics.
‘He [Muhith] has grown old,’ he said.
‘I think he is a bit frustrated,’ said Ahsan, a former International Monetary Fund official.
He explained that Muhith had committed to cut the corporate tax for all companies, but in the end the cut in tax was proposed only for banks, whose owners already obtained facilities like reduction of cash reserve requirement to 5.5 per cent and extension of tenure of directorship for consecutive nine years from the previous six years.
Unnayan Onneshan, an independent multidisciplinary think-tank, said that the proposed budget lacked measures necessary to address macroeconomic, medium-term and institutional challenges the economy was facing.
Inequality has widened on the back of the gap between return on capital and return on labour on the one hand and the persistent primitive accumulation in the form of looting in different sectors of the economy on the other, it says.
Unnayan Onneshan chairman Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir said he did not mind with the comments of Muhith.
He, however, said everybody should have mentality to accept criticism based on independent analysis for progress of the society.
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