Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a post budget press conference in the city on June 14 said the budget will bring social welfare and wellbeing to all people at all levels. “It will usher in a new era of prosperity and development,” she said speaking on the occasion.
The Prime Minister was addressing the press as Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal was sick and unable to attend the event being hit by flue and fever and languishing in a city hospital. The Prime Minister also read part of the budget speech as Kamal failed to hold the course.
Hasina said the budget has made enough allocation for development of education, health, human development and social safety net programme. It aims at improving agriculture and the lot of farmers and enough allocation has been made in this respect.
She said women entrepreneur development, youth development and their training, development of new class of young entrepreneurs are some features of the budget. It has allocated Tk 100 crore for youth development and another Tk 100 crore for women entrepreneur development.
The budget will add 15.45 lakh new beneficiaries to raise the number of people under social safety-net to a total of 1.13 crore. This is a big step, she said. Turning to critics, she said they can’t see the good things. “I don’t understand what research they are doing.” She dismissed them saying they are mentally sick, she said.
Former finance minister AMA Muhith, Planning Minister MA Mannan, Commerce Minister TipuMunshi, Agriculture Minister MdAbdurRazzaque, Finance Secretary AbdurRoufTalukder, National Board of Revenue Chairman MdMosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, and Bangladesh Bank Governor FazleKabir were present.
The Prime Minister said the budget aims at creating 30 million new jobs in next two years and rise the GDP to two digits in next four years. The nation is poised to a big leap forward, she said. She also praised the budgetary target of raising the number of taxable income to one crore soon to expand the tax base.
Hsina took positively the budgetary move to whiten black money saying it will help retain the money within the country and bring boost to the economy. It will bring the money to formal channel to be invested in the country.
“Nobody knows where black money holders have hidden their undisclosed earnings. Their money needs to be taken into themainstream. Steps have been taken to legalisethe money lest rats eat it away.”
Sheikh Hasina said once undisclosed money can’t come to the mainstream attempts being made to launder the money through various ways and by other means.
Describing the new budget as a welfare oriented, she said, that the budget has been framed in a way to help all people in all regions to remove discrimination and ensure equity. She sought cooperation of all to implement the budget.
Issuing warning to willful loan defaulters, she said, “We will take stern action against them but before that we will give them opportunity to pay back loans.”On the interest rate, she said the government has always tried to limit it to a single digit.
“We have also extended some benefits to banks to keep it in a single digit. But many private banks have not obliged.” She said banks will have to comply with the government directives so that the interest rate remains in a single digit.
If the interest rate remains in single digit, it will attract investment, she said, adding that if interest rate goes up at a compound rate, people cannot do business.
“We will amend laws to that end,” she said. She further said there is nothing to worry about the state-run banks, and that they are not under too much pressure.If the actual loan amounts are taken into account, the total sum of defaulted loans will not look that big, she said.
She laid emphasis on reforms in the financial sector saying a vibrant bond market and use of other financial tools such as wage earners bond, venture capital, and treasury bond will be encouraged. This will reduce pressure on government borrowing from banks to off-set budgetary deficit.
“We want to see good governance in the stock market.”
On ensuring fair prices for paddy growers, Hasina said, “We have decided to procure paddy. We will procure additional four lakh tonnes.”She also said a lot of incentives are being given to produce paddy, which allow farmers to spend less on farming. And the majority of the funds come from the government coffers.
It is the government’s responsibility to look after farmers, and it is doing that.The PM mentioned that the government is implementing many large projects, and more revenue needs to be collected from domestic sources.