Friday, January 18, 2019 | ePaper

Budget to make commoners` life harder

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The fat and lofty budget that was presented before lawmakers in Parliament on Thursday brought no good news for ordinary citizens and businesses but rather mounted pressure on taxpayers to meet the legendary thrust of corrupt bureaucrats and politicians and lockless state-owned banks' vaults.
News media tagged the budget of Tk 464,573 crore for 2018-19 fiscal an unattainable budget with higher targets based on fragile economy and revenue collection. If we consider the recent macroeconomic trends of the country, targeted revenue collection and higher expenditure to please public servants, the finance of development works and wasting money into the black hole of banks is simply playing havoc with the citizens money.
In the outgoing fiscal, the annual development programme implementation was lowest while tax and revenue collection have fallen flat.
The budget speech that falsely gives a glowing picture, belying the reality is a blueprint of the "technique of successful failure" as the budget story exposes the constant "capability trap" that the country's economy is mired in. This year's ADP implementation so far is a meagre 52.42 percent, meaning we have to finish up the rest 48 percent job in the next three weeks, an impossible task. Our tax-GDP ratio has barely crossed 7 percent when the original target was 13 percent. Revenue growth is only 17 percent when we need a 30 percent plus acceleration to accomplish the job at hand, another distant dream.  Yet, the Finance Minister in his budget speech has claimed the government's "enviable capacity" for rapid implementation of socio-economic development plans.
In 2010, Finance Minister Muhith spoke of a "modern, efficient, corruption-free and service-oriented" public administration. Five years down the lane in 2016, he admitted that the AL government could not bring necessary reforms in the public administration. This year, he made no mention of reforming the civil bureaucracy.
While banks are reeling due to non-performing loans, health services are in a dilapidated condition, and education lacks quality, how can the government expect a high growth rate?  There is an acute shortage of skilled manpower, especially in the middle and high level management, exposing the fact that education is lacking quality. The bizarre budget is nothing but a pro-election budget as national elections are expected in this fiscal, the government expanded the social welfare net and exempted VAT  to aid the poor amid rising inequality.

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