Leaders of ruling Awami League-led grand alliance criticised the government for corruption in the banking sector and said that the central bank had failed to play an effective role in supervising the banks.
Taking part in a general discussion on the proposed budget for 2019-20 fiscal at the parliament, Workers Party of Bangladesh president Rashed Khan Menon, his party’s lawmaker Mustafa Lutfullah and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal general secretary Shirin Akhter said good governance would not be ensured if corruption and irregularities in the banking sector were not curbed.
Menon alleged that Bangladesh advanced a lot in terms of the economy but the crises in the banking sector remained a barrier to further development.
He alleged that Bangladesh Bank had failed to play an effective role in supervising the banks.
‘They [central bank] could not manage their own money, people of the country did not find any sign of accountability in this regard,’ he said.
He said that allowing new banks on political grounds and making banks a family business was where the real problem lied.
He said bank owners association were behind the deplorable condition of the present banking sector and they even regularly disobeyed the directives from the prime minister.
‘Looting in the banking sector, anarchy and unruliness is not unknown to anyone,’ he said, adding that banks were bent due to the huge defaulted loans while the liquidity crisis threatened their existence.
Menon said that in the budget speech the finance minister talked about reforms for the banking sector, but those were meant for the future. Even the formation of the Bank Commission was now tied to a condition — it would be subject to discussions.
Rashed Khan Menon said that to mitigate the budget deficit the government would have to take Tk 47,364 crore from the banking sector and it would also need to contribute more in the ongoing liquidity crisis.
He said that the private investment would reduce more, there would be no employment, all things were linked.
He also criticised the finance minister by saying that he [minister] admitted that he had no control over the capital market. Immediate past finance minister also admitted that his hands were not large enough to take action against the culprits of the share market scam.
‘So recommendations of Ibrahim Khaled [head of government probe committee on the share market crash] were not implemented,’ he added.
He said that there was no specific proposal in the budget for creating three crore employment in the country by 2030.
Criticising the move for creating the scope for whitening black money in the real estate sector, Menon said because of this the price of flats and lands would go beyond the reach of the middle class and immorality will be encouraged.
Menon laid emphasis on reviving the dignity of elections. ‘People have lost their interest in casting their votes in elections, this is not only dangerous for the elections, but also for democracy,’ he added.
He said that if the different machineries of the state tried to control and manipulate the elections, then the political parties would lose their relevance not only in the elections, but also in running the state.
Shirin Akhter said that the criminalisation of economy, politics and decreasing employment generation posed some real challenges for the country. It would be impossible to ensure
good governance and stop looting until corruption in the banking sector was curbed.
She also proposed steps for giving recognition to unpaid work of women.
She also said that a commission was needed for public-run jute mills to resolve their issues including arrears and increase in production and added that another commission was needed for the agriculture sector to ensure fair price and maintain market price.
Mustafa Lutfullah sharply criticised the government for keeping scope for legalising undisclosed money, terming the budget ‘graft-friendly, unconstitutional, immoral, and discriminatory’.
BNP lawmaker Rumeen Farhana also said that typical taxpayer would need to pay more tax than the people who would seize the opportunity to legalise black money. Defaulted loan is higher in the country than in any other in South Asia. About 12 per cent of the total loan takers were defaulters.
She alleged that the government had not shown any kind of sensitivity towards farmers in the budget. It also lacked any clear direction how fair price for paddy would be provided.
BNP lawmaker M Zahidur Rahman said that the proposed budget would protect the undisclosed money holders and it would help the rich people to get richer as there was nothing for the middle
and lower income people in it.
He urged the prime minister to withdraw the ‘false cases’ filed by the police against BNP leaders and activists across the country.
He demanded immediate release of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and a fresh general election for the greeter interest of the nation.
He also urged the government to return the disappeared BNP leader Ilias Ali if he was still alive.
Ruling MP Rafiqul Islam proposed an increase of allocation for health sector.
Treasury bench members hailed the budget while taking part in the discussion. Planning minister MA Mannan said that the budget was a realistic one.
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