Mirza Fakhrul terms proposed budget as ‘anti-Bangladesh’

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam AlamgirFile photo

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has labeled the proposed national budget for the fiscal year 2024-2025 as anti-Bangladesh, saying it contains new schemes to facilitate the embezzlement of public money by the ruling party-backed looters.

“The government has become looters. The budget crafted by these looters seems to be aimed at further indulging in plundering. I believe that fresh plans have been devised in the budget for embezzlement (of public money),” he said.

Talking to reporters on the budget in front of the BNP Chairperson’s Gulshan office, Fakhrul also said the worst aspect of the proposed budget is the lack of any direction towards new job creation.

“The entire budget seems to be formulated for mega projects, mega theft, and corruption. So, I not only call this so-called budget anti-people but also anti-Bangladesh," he observed.

Earlier on the day, Finance Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali placed a Tk 7.97 trillion proposed national budget for 2024-25 in parliament.

Giving his party’s initial reaction to the budget, Fakhrul said the proposed expenditure is much higher than the revenue collection target.

He warned that this imbalance will only intensify public suffering and increase their burden.

The BNP leader also feared that the government would cut public pockets to meet its expenditures.

Besides, he said the government will take loans or grants from abroad as well as from the local banks to bridge the gap between expenditures and revenue earnings.

“In the end, it will be the people who bear the consequences. They are already grappling with the burden of unbearable increases in the prices of commodities, fuel, and utility services, including power,” Fakhrul said.

He said the government plans to further increase the prices of utility services in the near future, leaving the country's people in a precarious situation. "Many individuals are returning to rural areas, leaving cities struggling to sustain their livelihoods."

Fakhrul said the government has no focus on resolving the problems faced by the common people amidst the gradual increase in inflation.

About the provision for whitening black money with a payment of 15 per cent tax, he said it is unjust to those who earn money through legal means.

Referring to recent media reports on the alleged corruption involving former IGP Benazir Ahmed and former Army chief Aziz Ahmed, Fakhrul questioned how government officials could accumulate such vast amounts of wealth.

He lamented that four out of five Members of Parliament were allegedly involved in the embezzlement of Tk 200-250 million from workers bound for Malaysia through deception.

Fakhrul attributed such a situation to the absence of a government that prioritizes the people's interests and the lack of accountability within the current regime.

The BNP leader also said the budget was presented in a parliament where all MPs, elected through what he referred to as a "dummy election," are affiliated with the ruling party, even though they are seated separately on both the treasury and opposition benches.

He also alleged that burning issues concerning public interests are now cannot be discussed in parliament, as the ruling party MPs only like to engage in praising the government.

Fakhrul also mentioned an instance where an MP attempted to initiate a discussion on the corruption allegations against ex-IGP Benazir Ahmed, but was interrupted and stopped.