BEA plea black money role09 June 2014
A section of economists has suggested the use of black money in infrastructure building under 'strict' conditions.
The Bangladesh Economics Association (BEA) has aired this view its review of the proposed budget for 2014-15 fiscal on Saturday.
The BEA's position differs from the finance minister's, who has said that facilities to 'whiten' black money contained in the previous budgets would be withdrawn.
Association President Abul Barakat said black money in the country amounted to about Tk 5-7 trillion.
"We need to recover this vast sum," he added.
"In particular, we could provide the opportunity to whiten black money by investing in roads, bridges, power plants and other large infrastructure projects."
The BEA recommended stringent conditions for such investments so as not to let honest taxpayers feel let down.
Although Finance Minister AMA Muhith had not mentioned the issue of black money in his budget speech on Thursday, he said at a post-budget press meet on Friday that all facilities to whiten black money would be rolled back.
He told reporters there had been very little response to the conversion option in the past years.
"Since there is a greater investment demand in infrastructure, the government could allow the opportunity in those sectors," Barakat said.
"The association doesn't support this immoral advantage. But the reality is we need this money."
The BEA backed the government's growth target of 7.3 percent, saying it was "hard, but attainable".
BEA Genera Secretary Toufiq Ahmed Chowdhury said attainment of the target depended on several issues.
"If the government can control political thugs and rent seekers, the desired growth target won't be too hard to achieve."
The BEA observed that the nation was in the grip of the rich, who misappropriated and hijacked property.
Toufiq Ahmed said the revenue base could be expanded by identifying potential taxpayers to cover the deficit, instead of relying on local and foreign funds.
"There are about 50 people in Bangladesh who pay over Tk 10 million in taxes. But the association estimates that there are at least 50,000 people who are capable of paying that much," he said.
"Which means we can collect Tk 500 billion from these people annually," he said.