Budget offers no way out from economic crisis: BNP

BNP flagProthom Alo illustration

The proposed budget for the fiscal year 2023-24 did not provide a way out from the country's ‘extreme economic crisis’ and to contain the rampant corruption and money laundering.

Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), came up with the statement at the BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office on Wednesday, while presenting his party’s formal reaction over the proposed budget.

He also termed the budget unrealistic, deceptive and ostentatious.

The BNP leader said the budget would benefit the ruling party and its allies, rather than serving the public interest. The government formulated the budget as a means for "smart looting" under the guise of creating a "Smart Bangladesh."

He noted that the government excels at stealing votes, banks, and money. The proposed budget facilitated corruption worth billions of taka, looting of public assets, and operation of syndicates.

In the midst of the ongoing economic crisis, the country needed a bold and realistic budget that prioritises the national interest over political affiliations and personal gains, he added.

He slammed the proposed budget as merely an extension of the previous budget and implementation of the conditions set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The BNP leader explained the ground reality against the budget allocations, inflation, budget deficit, revenue collection, income inequality, tax discrimination, internal and external debt burden, and ability of budget implementation.

He particularly criticised the reduced allocations for the health, education, and agriculture sectors.

Mirza Fakhrul alleged that the allocations for the social safety sector actually decreased if it is compared to GDP and budget. He pointed out that the government included certain programmes in the social safety sector, though they do not actually belong to it, in an attempt to show a bigger allocation.

He particularly mentioned the inclusion of subsidies in the agriculture sector, interest on savings certificates, and stimulus packages for small and medium traders in the social safety sector.

Mirza Fakhrul expressed discontent with the meager increase of Tk 50 to Tk 100 in monthly allowances for the elderly, widows, dependents, and physically challenged people. He mentioned the incident of police attack on the physically challenged people during their protest against the poor allocations.

He further said there prevails no accountability unless a democratic government is there. It is quite impossible for them to formulate a budget for the wellbeing of the economy and implement it.

An accountable, responsible and elected government must be established to get rid of the national crisis. Here, the only way is free, fair, participatory and credible elections under a neutral government, he continued.

Mirza Fakhrul further said the main reason for the electricity crisis is corruption and looting. From quick rental power plants to Adani – all are being looted. They (government) have chosen this sector for corruption.

BNP standing committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury said the people are paying electricity bills at a higher rate. But, why is it not being permitted to open LCs for importing coal, gas, and oil. There is no taka, no dollars. The people know where this money has gone.