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Govt must stop the capital flight: Getting back the laundered money not an easy task

23 June 2022

In view of the global economic instability caused by the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, the proposed budget for fiscal 2022-23 has offered an opportunity to bring back the laundered money home. The finance minister has urged all not to oppose the decision arguing that this money belongs to people, but the planning minister termed the decision as "unrealistic".
It is clear from the planning minister's statement at a discussion in the capital that, "Once money is smuggled out of the country, it is almost impossible to get it back." Continuing, he further said, "We have neither the legal process nor the power to bring back the money deposited by the Bangladeshis in the Swiss banks." Why did the government take such an impossible decision then? Rather, he left the matter to the launderers' discretion by taking refuge in the proverb "The devil would not listen to the scripture".
This clearly means that the government itself knows that it is impossible to bring the smuggled money back to the country. Instead, the planning minister advised to pay attention to preventing the outflow of the money from the country.
Economists and different trade organisations, including the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), the apex body of traders, have strongly criticised the government's decision for offering the amnesty facilities to money launderers. They believe the country has entered a new height of whitewashing black money with the opportunity to bring back the money laundered by paying only 7 per cent tax in this year's proposed budget. Through this opportunity, they think, the launderers are being rewarded legitimacy. Even, they termed this opportunity as unconstitutional and unlawful. Moreover, there has been little response in decades from the launderers.
According to Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington-based research institution in the United States, about Tk 640 billion is smuggled from Bangladesh every year in the name of business. While the report of the Swiss National Bank said, last year the highest Tk 8,365 crore has been deposited with various banks in Switzerland in the name of Bangladeshi individuals and organisations.     
When there is so much criticism and doubt within the government about recovering the laundered money, what is the rationale of the opportunity? To increase the revenue and expenditure deficit in the budget, practical steps have to be taken to increase the revenue. The government must come out of the impossible hope of getting the laundered money back. Instead, it must focus on stopping the capital flight.

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