This opportunity to bring illegal money to bank: PM Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses a discussion organised at the party’s Dhaka district office in the capital’s Tejgaon area marking the historic six-point day on 7 June, 2024PID

Defending the opportunity to whiten black money, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday said this has been done in the proposed national budget to bring the illegal money into the banking system.

She equated this with bait used for fishing.

Also president of governing Awami League, Sheikh Hasina said this while addressing a discussion organised at the party’s Dhaka district office in the capital’s Tejgaon area marking the historic six-point day.

Speaking about the opportunity, the prime minister said, “A question has been raised about black money. I hear many people saying, black money? Then none will pay taxes. Actually, it is not like this. This is not only about black money. Commodity prices have gone up; the person who owns a katha of land is a multimillionaire. But none sells their land as per the government estimated price. They sell those at a higher price and this leads to some additional money. They keep this money to themselves. Let the money come to its proper system through paying some (taxes); then those people will have to pay taxes,” she stressed.

The prime minister said, “I say you have to use baits for fishing, don’t you? There will be no fish if you don’t use bait. This is just like that. Actually, this was done earlier too. This started during the time of the caretaker government. All the governments do this.”

Sheikh Hasina said the government has provided the scope so that that money could be brought to the banking system through a small amount of tax. Many people have been saying many things over this. Despite this, taxes have been reduced for the essentials of the people.

Challenge is inflation 

Keeping the inflation rate, especially for the food items, within control in the fiscal year 2024-25 is the biggest challenge, remarked the prime minister.

She said that the production and supply have to be raised. “There won’t be any scarcity of food if people pay their attention to production.”

The prime minister said “We have to proceed with the plan, keeping the world situation in mind. There are some people … who do not find good in anything. Let them have their opinions, we don’t need to pay attention to that.”

The budget has been proposed to fulfil the fundamental rights of the people, she remarked.

Many people calculate the budget grew at a certain rate earlier but why the growth rate is less this year. 

The head of the government said, “We want to move ahead in a conservative way so that the general people do not suffer, so that we can fulfil their demands. We have formulated the budget focusing on that.”

Talking about the global high inflation, the prime minister said the people with limited income have been suffering from inflation. “But we’ve introduced family cards for the limited-income people so that they can purchase several essential commodities like rice, pulse and edible oil at a fair price. We’re providing food to those who are extremely poor,” she said.

‘We have to feed people first’

Instead of thinking about the (forex) reserve, we have to feed people first, remarked prime minister Sheikh Hasina. “Fulfilling the demands of the people is more important than the amount of the reserve. We have spent money keeping an eye on that,” she insisted.

She also mentioned distributing Covid-19 shots freely and conducting tests that even many developed nations could not do.

Mentioning that the budget stressed on the fundamental needs of the people, the prime minister said the last budget of the BNP government was of Tk 620 billion only and the caretaker government gave a budget of Tk 680 billion. But the incumbent government proposed a budget of Tk 7.97 trillion.