Monday, February 17, 2020 | ePaper

Finding new ways to plundering public money

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PARLIAMENTARY Committee on Finance on Sunday forwarded a bill aimed at allowing the government to use the 'surplus funds' of different government agencies for 'public welfare'. Finance Minister placed the bill aiming to bring Tk 2.12 lakh crore idle money of different government institutions, semi-autonomous, statutory authorities, and non-financial corporations to the National Exchequer. Of the idle money, the surplus amounts will be deposited to the National Exchequer after keeping aside the operational fund, an additional 25 per cent of the operational fund as emergency fund, and the amounts for general provident fund and pension. We see the latest policy of the government has been framed targeting to take the surplus money in the name of public welfare and financing development projects.
The Cabinet Secretary cited five organisations that had maximum amount of reserve money, which he termed as idle money. Of them, Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation had Tk 21,580 crore, the Petrobangla (Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation) Tk 18,204 crore, Power Development Board Tk 13,454 crore, Chattogram Port Authority Tk 9,913 crore and the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha Tk 4,030 crore. Amid the fairy-tale of development, economic growth is really rolling back in the fiscal year 2019-20 as demand for Bangladeshi exports is falling down following the slow-pace in global trade. The real growth rate is far below than the government's projection of 8.2 per cent for FY20. Except for BBS data, information from other sources, including national accounts, shows a downward trend in the overall trade and business. The coming days are challenging for the economy.
We fear that -- by the passage of this bill, the government will get access without any challenge to use the money as it wishes. At the same time, the capacity of the autonomous bodies and profitable government intuitions would be reduced, which would be devastating for the economy.                

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