Budget Activism in Bangladesh: Review-1


Budget is not only a income-expenditure calculation of government rather it is  a political document of government where they show their national development strategies. We can identify the political character and development philosophy of the ruling government through analysing the national budget.

The students and common people thought that  budget is a very difficult issue which is beyond to understand of common people like us! Only political parties and experts economists understand it! 
– Our young activist and facilitator of Amar Odhikar! Amader Budget Campaign,  Mofaq Kharul Islam Toufiq got this experience from Titumir College.  

Is it difficult to understand! Yes, not so easy! But not so difficult! As a conscious citizen, you should have to try to understand the budget. Compare the state with family. A family  have to prepare its budget and family prepare budget based on income; but the state prepare the budget based on expenditure! Difference is only here! The books on budget literacy published by Summunay indicates this briefing.

We, the policy makers  have not get much more time to read the budget documents, because we get these documents just before a few days of budget speech given of Finance Minister in the parliament. So, we just hear the speech of Finance Minister and he gets a big hands from ruling policy makers and an opposing sound like shame, shame from opposition. In other countries, policy makers get about 6 month to speak in budget; if we got such time, it could be make a fruitful budget discussion in the parliament.
– A policy maker in budget seminar, held in last year!

Now a days, we found government sat with trade bodies and think tank on budget, but they discussed it in professional language which beyond to understand by citizen group.  Against the backdrop, some citizen group initiates  budget discussion to make it easy to understand and fruitful for the people!  This year, as forum of young people,  Online Knowledge Centre takes this challenge to reach the general people in different communities through launching budget campaign.

Already budget document has been published and there is no room to add any recommendations. So, we need to organise such seminars earlier.
– Most of the speaker highlighted this point earlier budget discussion.

 The citizen group organise pre-budget discussion in April-June usually, just before of declaring budget at National Parliament, so there had not any space to add recommendations. Although it is very difficult to reach in budget process, but if anybody wants eagerly to take part in budget discussion, then s/he should have to follow the budget cycle!

This year, the  National Board of Revenue (NBR) made a public circular on people participation in National Budget on 21 February 2010 and the cicular asked the budget recommendations from different professional bodies, think tanks, research organisations as well as from citizen groups. The circular describes that after getting the budget recommendations, government will sit with the respective groups for budget discussion.

May be, the professional institution like trade bodies and think tanks responded and we found the budget discussion with them at the newspaper recently. But government has not sat with citizen group till now, it means, may be no response they got from these group. But the citizen group  is preparing some unfruitful and irresponsible  budget discussion this year as usual making blame again, budget document has been prepared…… bla bla bla! The group who oranises budget discussion each year, they should be responsible and keep their eyes in budget cycle! In the other hand, the government should think about the status of semi-professional institution and they should not justify people participation just throughing a circular. The government should sit with citizen group by asking budget recommendations, if really the government really wants public participation.

The economists urged the government to impose capital gain tax on the banks and city congestion tax to reduce traffic jam. They made the call it on 12 April 2010 at the pre-budget discussion with Finance Minister AMA Muhith held at the Finance Division. Economists have also suggested giving area-wise instead of countrywide subsidy and energy incentives to small and medium entrepreneurs for at least next two years. The discussion brief has been described as follows:

M Hafizuddin Khan, Former finance adviser of the caretaker government
The government should form a commission to find out why the ADP could not be implemented and suggest remedies. A large number of entrepreneurs and households are producing electricity due to ongoing power crisis using diesel-run generators, which eat up a huge amount of fuel. So, the government could consider setting up a diesel-run power plant for the capital.

Mustafizur Rahman, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)
There is no possibility of power deficiency being overcome in next two years as per the government plan. The government should give energy subsidy to small and medium entrepreneurs for at least two years to make up for the losses incurred due to power crunch. The government is going to take a big size ADP but the finance minister’s budget speech should spell out which ways the ADP would be implemented.

Rushidan Islam, Research Director, BIDS
The government should take  a special scheme for areas affected by climate change and disasters and  the government could make allocations for coastal employment schemes and disaster insurance schemes in the next budget. Before giving any privilege to the readymade garments factory owners, the government should ensure that the workers are given proper wages and other facilities.

M Farash Uddin, Former governor of Bangladesh Bank 
The government should form  an accreditation council to improve quality of education in the public and private universities and the council must be given sufficient independence.

Mahbub Hossain, Agricultural economist
The price of agricultural equipment has fallen much in the international market. So, instead of giving countrywide agricultural subsidy, the government should subsidy for selected areas.

Mashih Malik Chowdhury, Chartered accountant
Capital gain tax should be imposed on the banks as they are making huge profit by investing in the share market. At present the tax rate on the banks is 42.5 percent, but if their profit on share market is taken into account, the rate of real tax on them goes down to below 20 percent. The government should also  impose of city congestion tax to reduce traffic jam.

Famida Khatun, CPD researcher
The government should make budgetary allocation should be made for rainwater harvesting to combat water crisis.

Mir Mostafizur Rahman, Former finance secretary
The government should stop scope to whiten black money in the next budget. “For God’s sake, stop giving scope to whiten black money by giving some tax on purchasing house and cars. 

M Motiul Islam, chairman of Industrial and Infrastructure Development Finance Co Ltd, former adviser of the caretaker government Prof Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, former president of Bangladesh Economic Association Dr Qazi Kholiquzzman Ahmed, BIDS Director General MK Mujeri, Prof Khandker Bazlul Haque and Prof Ashrafuddin from Dhaka University, BIDS Research Director Protima Paul, Prof Nurul Islam from Buet, and CPD researcher Uttam Kumar Dev also spoke.

Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman, Finance Secretary Dr Mohammad Tareq, Chairman of the National Board of Revenue Dr Nasiruddin Ahmed, ERD Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and Banking Division Secretary Shafiqur Rahman Patwari were present.

Comments of Prodip Kumar Roy
For mitigating electricity crisis, the government should allocate a sum amount of electricity for any building as per sq-ft whose 80 percent will be provided by the state and 20 percent will generate the owner of building through solar energy. If the building owner wishes to increase his/her allocated amount of electricity, then the government will charge double for extra amount of electricity. And the government should reduce the prices of solar machineries through giving subsidy, so that people inspire to generate electricity through solar energy.

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5 Comments

  1. Our country is facing food security. But there is no exact plan to solve the problem. If we want to ensure food security for the nation then we must have to support the farmers to increased domestic production. Every year we see the farmer did’t get the right price of his crops. When farmers will not get right price of his crops, they will not interested to produce crops. So the government must have to ensure the farmers to get right price of his crops and it will be possible by direct purchase the crops from farmers through the government. For that causes the government should create a special fund for newly build godown to stock purchasing goods like paddy, rice, wheat, maize etc. by the government from farmers. Because of the government have not enough godown to stock purchasing goods.

  2. Thanks Kanak! FYI, the government has already made a directive order that paddy will be procure by Tk.17/KG and Rice by Tk.25/KG. Is it fair price for farmers? The crtical qustion is, farmers sell their paddy and rice just after harvesting with minimum price due to capital problem! How would we ensure the declared price to the farmers?
    Many of experts suggest that the government should provide a short term loan without interest to farmers to preseave their paddy and rice for few month. Would this suggestion enough? I would like to hear from you and the readers.

  3. There are many other suggest from experts to solve crisis of food security for the nation. But at first the government have to protect farmers for food security. Although here also many way of protect to farmers but we will discussed on following two points….
    1. Direct procure from farmers(its already made by the government)
    2. To provide by short term loan without interest
    Above both points are very important to protect farmers interest. But it will be success when its implementation will be perfect. If the government would like to success program then……
    for no.1
    a. to made exact price of paddy or rice and declare at the time of harvesting
    b. this price must have to profitable for farmers
    c. to made every union porisod basis purchasing centre where the farmer can easily sell his crops
    d. and the purchase have to started just after harvesting
    for no.2
    a. have to made original farmer list
    b. to provide by short seasonal loan though any local bank for six months
    c. it must have to get easily otherwise farmer will not interested about it

  4. Thanks Kanak! I think, we should examine the recommendation about procuring paddy and rice through Union Parisad. It could be made another problem. The government has already declare the price of paddy and rice. Question is, how we can ensure that farmers will get the declared price!
    The government have alreadt given Krishi Card to Farmers and Bangladesh Bank has taken more initiative to disburse soft loan to the farmers this year. Hope, it will be continued! But problem is, the Bank Official and some local vested interested group are not more sensitised about national interest! It has created problem. How can we overcome this situation? Everybody will recommend that we need the farmers organisation. But how can we build farmers organisation and who will take the lead? Have any answer!

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