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Cut on costly government and looters must be asked to return public money

By Editorial Desk
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The finance minister has prepared a fiscal plan to make Bangladesh a higher middle-income country by 2030. It speaks of essential reforms like overhaul of the tax machinery, cleaning up the banking sector and upgrading the education system to tap the country's potential, but without any concrete course of action. What would have been a defining moment for the economy ultimately ended up being a haphazard road map? A government with limited resources cannot do much; it needs to boost its means to execute its plan or else it is nothing.

The National Board of Revenue, the main breadwinner for the government, has been tasked with bringing home Tk 325,600 crore in fiscal 2019-20, up 16.29 percent from this year's revised budget. This is a lofty target, given the NBR managed to collect Tk 153,477 crore in the first nine months of FY 2018-19, meaning more than Tk 126,522 crore has to be collected in the last three months. This is not possible, if past records are any indication.

But attaining such revenue targets through increasing tax on mobile phone services  or through the arcane structure of the present VAT system which shows no sign of a rational overhaul due to vested groups who prefer that if-the NBR does not improve the system it will not solve the current problems of generating revenue through taxation. Nor will the introduction of a VAT on online purchase solve anything.

All of these actions-especially the last, indicate that the government wishes to punish any successful business-in a country where there are very few avenues of creating successful businesses. Being successful should not be a crime but it seems that the NBR views it that way. If that's the case then how can you create employment or pay workers high wages-or indeed have money from retained profits for investment-considering that the government also plans to punish retained profits?

Rather the government should seek ways to reduce its need for money. One simple way is to control government spending. Why should our flyovers cost 50 percent more than those in India and China? Why are we spending over Tk 17,500 crore to fund gross mismanagement in our public banks-without any strings attached? Why should the taxpayers' money be spent on this nonsense?

The government has to prioritise the mega projects that can yield immediate economic gains like the Padma Bridge, Dhaka Metro Rail, Rooppur Power Plant, Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport expansion and the Dhaka Elevated Expressway and see through that the money is used efficiently. Taxing successful businesses will have a negative impact on employment generation and lower investment levels.

We know it is futile to give sensible and honest advice to the government because they are not accountable to the people and do not feel bound to listen to the people. The government thrives on lies supplied by the dishonest ones driving the government from behind.

We know the budget is merely a paper transaction in the absence of honesty and while government induced corruption. There is no sense in expecting budget to be fairly implemented. One thing is sure the government has no money. The burden will fall on the people but they have been robbed in every way possible. They cannot bear it any more.

The present government to keep the government officials happy and loyal has made the government most costly in the reality of our economy. So our suggestion is that the government must cut down on the cost of the government. In addition, the looters must be asked to return the looted public money. We can assure the government, whatever be the debate, the black money owners will not invest their black money despite the concession offered. They are very practical people even though the money are dishonestly earned. They how made the country insecure for investment!

Those who think budget is out of politics they have no idea of budget. The parliament that is going to pass the budget is not honestly represents by the people's representatives. The undeniable truth is that government had no courage to face the people in a free election. Lies cannot be the way to succeed.

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