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More ministers back Muhith against criticism on budget

23 June 2017 bdnews24.com

Cabinet members Amir Hossain Amu and Hasanul Huq Inu have spoken up for the finance minister in parliament, a day after their colleague Tofail Ahmed defended him against relentless criticism over the budget.
Commerce Minister Ahmed, on Wednesday, took a swipe at ministers and MPs, both from the ruling party and the opposition, for making harsh remarks on AMA Muhith.
On Thursday, Amu and Inu joined their cabinet colleague to defend Muhith during the last parliament session before the Eid holidays.
"There has been a lot of criticism over the VAT. The budget was unanimously passed by the cabinet. No-one had objected then. But many have made statements criticising the finance minister, which is totally uncalled-for," said Industries Minister Amu.
Information Minister Inu echoed him and said, "Everyone is blaming the finance minister. But they should keep in mind that he has prepared the budget upon the prime minister's instruction."
Muhith drew criticism after he proposed in the new budget on Jun 1 to increase excise duty on bank accounts and set the uniform VAT at 15 percent.
The minister has come under fire from different quarters, especially from lawmakers from his own party in parliament and cabinet colleagues.
Senior leaders of opposition Jatiya Party Ziauddin Ahmed Bablu and Kazi Firoz Rashid, on Tuesday, made full-frontal verbal attacks and asked Muhith to step down and even recommended pressing criminal charges against him.
Several ruling lawmakers, including ministers blamed Muhith for his statements which they said embarrassed the government.
One of them was Awami League MP and former minister Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim.
"Your job is to present the budget, but the 350 MPs who represent people in the House will ultimately decide what to implement. Talk less and don't be stubborn," the presidium member of the ruling party had said earlier.
Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury and Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque also came down hard on Muhith over the new VAT rate and excise duty on bank deposits.
Addressing the parliament on Wednesday, senior Awami League leader Tofail Ahmed hit back at opposition leaders Bablu and Rashid over their remarks on the octogenarian finance minister.
"If you talk about age, then you should think of your leader HM Ershad, who is five years older than the finance minister," Ahmed said in the House. "I wonder how Bablu forgot that his leader is more than 86 years old."
Amu, who sits with Ahmed on the Awami League's policymaking presidium, said on Thursday that there's scope for discussions over the budget.
"And we are discussing it. The final announcement will come on the 30th of this month upon the prime minister's instruction. But it's unfortunate to make derogatory remarks in the name of criticism."
Earlier, Information Minister Inu told the House that the budget was not only about VAT, excise duty and rates of government-offered saving schemes.
"We are not discussing the other aspects. Do not judge the budget only on these three issues."

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