Planning Minister MA Mannan on Saturday said that the proposed budget for FY24 has been largely rural-friendly.
"The number of beneficiaries and the amounts has been increased under the social safety nets for the rural communities. Besides, the rural economy will be strengthened further since there will be steps for boosting agricultural production," he said.
The Planning Minister was addressing the MCCI-PRI Post Budget 2023-2024 Discussion titled "Bangladesh from Vulnerability to Resilience and Rapid Inclusive Development" held at the conference hall of the Chamber Building in the capital today.
The Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and the Policy Research Institute (PRI) jointly organized this discussion.
Moderated by MCCI vice president Habibullah N Karim, PRI vice chairman Dr Sadiq Ahmed, MCCI director Adeeb H Khan, MCCI former president Anis Ud Dowla and former ICAB president Shahadat Hossain took part in the discussion.
PRI chairman Dr Zaidi Sattar made a presentation titled "Setting the Tone on the Budget 2023-24 and the World Economy".
Speaking on the occasion as the chief guest, the Planning Minister said that Bangladesh was lauded across the globe while facing the COVID-19 pandemic. "But, when the budget has been delivered this time, we're a passing a tough time. There are uncertainties in supply of food grains globally due to the Russia-Ukraine War. The global supply chain has lost its stability due to the imposition of vice versa sanctions. Despite this, we're trying hard to give people comfort."
The Planning Minister noted that rural areas or villages are still at the center of economy in overall consideration. So, steps are being taken on how to energize the economy, he added.
Turning to the issue of containing inflation, he said that his personal opinion was to keep the market system smooth or flawless while there should be no intervention. "But, the main thing is that it's not possible to contain inflation without strengthening the supply side," Mannan added.
About the move for appointing income Tax Return Prepare (TRP) agents in the next fiscal year to help the valued taxpayers in preparing and thus submitting their returns, Mannan acknowledged that it is a progressive system. "But, none should be appointed without proper scrutiny and the entire process should run cautiously."
He also opined for appointing the TRP agents on pilot basis in each division instead of throughout the country.
Mentioning that the economy of Bangladesh is standing tall on three sectors like agriculture, industry and remittance, the Planning Minister said the country's agriculture is now on the "take off" stage for which the government ensured all necessary things including fertilizer and seeds to boost farm production.
Economists Dr Sadiq Ahmed and Adeeb H Khan urged the government to reconsider the move by the NBR which will make mandatory payment of Taka 2,000 as tax for the TIN holders despite having the income below the taxable level.
The speakers at the discussion lauded the government for raising the ceiling of the individual taxpayers.
Earlier on June 1, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal placed a Taka 7,61,785 crore budget for the next fiscal year (FY24) eyeing for a 7.5 percent GDP growth and to contain inflation at around 6 percent.