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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Budget should be more ‘realistic’

LEADING think-tank Centre for Policy Dialogue in a post-budget discussion said the FY2019-20 budget will favour affluent section of the society instead of establishing equity and social justice, resulting in middle and lower mid-income groups' sufferance. The utopian budget sets many ambitious goals but failed to set anytime frame and realistic strategy for achieving the goals, meaning politically sound but technically hollow. The budget proposed hike for surcharge-free net wealth limit but no measure is proposed for taxpayers in the lower income threshold, it's apparently a contradiction.
It is certain that any society where inequality and discrimination rise cannot move forward. It would be difficult to retain 7-8 per cent GDP growth. Giving the way for raising inequality, Finance Minister has set a plan to collect Tk 381,978 crore in revenue to fund 73 per cent of the total expenditure. The revenue target is 19 per cent higher than the target set in the revised budget for the outgoing FY. The aspiration of becoming a middle-income nation depends on the steps taken to support the middle-class people.
In its analysis, the CPD lauded various measures and termed projections of private investment and revenue collection realistic considering the current scenario. But it said, the government's move to allow investment of undisclosed money in industries and properties without any question as well as the absence of any measures to carry out reforms would not bring any positive change to the economy. Unfortunately, the budget fails to address the vital fact of unemployment and sets no plan as well as budget allocation in this regard.
It is true that we haven't seen political commitments or economic strategies to bring positive changes. The CPD also said the government's reliance on the banking sector would grow because of the low revenue collection. In addition, the rising pressure on foreign exchange reserves due to higher imports compared to exports and remittance inflow remain unaddressed.
We think the GDP could not be the only tool to measure the macroeconomic growth and overall development. The government must ensure inclusive and sustainable development in all relevant sectors including health, education, food and housing.