The Awami League has planned to increase the tax burden on the public in the proposed “anti-people” budget, the first in its third consecutive term, according to the BNP.
“Overall, it will increase economic pressure on a larger group of people. It won’t fulfil their expectations. Because this budget is against the people,” Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told a press conference at its Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan offices in Dhaka on Friday.
The secretary general came up with the party’s official reaction a day after AHM Mustafa Kamal proposed the Tk 5.23 trillion national budget, his maiden one as finance minister, with a target of 8.2 percent GDP growth and huge revenue collection mainly from VAT and income tax.
Mirza Fakhrul, who taught economics in college, dubbed the budget “ambitious” and said it lacked plans to meet the basic needs – food, clothing, education, healthcare – of the general people.
“The people will reject the budget…because it won’t fulfil their expectations,” he said.
“This budget will create direct pressure on the people. Their actual income has dropped, inequality has risen, the rich is getting richer and the poor poorer.
“The most affected will be the low- and middle-income people. The burden of taxes on them will rise,” he said.
The BNP leader questioned the move for the government to borrow money from the banking system to cut budget deficit. “They (government) have trapped the country in debt,” he remarked.
He believes the creation of additional vacancies in the public service and extended facilities for the public servants have pushed rising debts and interests.
“They plan to spend 20.5 percent of revenue budget on salaries and allowances which cannot be deemed reasonable,” Mirza Fakhrul said.
He slated the Awami League government for changing credit write-off policy in order to show less amount of default loan. “It will only make the balance sheet more attractive. Such jugglery is unacceptable,” he said.
The BNP leader was also critical of the government for moving to cut gold prices for the rich but raise taxes and duties on smartphones and mobile telephony services for the general people.
Cigarette prices have been raised in the budget, but not the duty – which Fakhrul said will lead the tobacco companies to enjoy a 31 percent profit boost. It will not discourage smoking either, he added.
Standing Committee Member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said the budget has “made it clear” why the Awami League “rigged vote” on the eve of the Dec 30 elections last year.
“This budget will only give facilities to the opportunists,” he said.
Another member of the committee, Moudud Ahmed, said the government had “nothing for the farmers”.
Abdul Moyeen Khan termed the budget “a document of the government’s failures”.
Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowddhury reiterated his claim that the “class of oligarchs made a budget for themselves”.
Two other members of the policymaking body, Mirza Abbas and Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, were also present.