Budget should focus on ensuring survival of people: Economists

Economists and leading financial analysts on Monday recommended to lay focus on ensuring survival of people through strengthening health, medical and social security sectors in the upcoming national budget.

They also stressed the need for giving importance on social protection in the next budget and thus creating a proper database to ease the process.

The remarks were made at a Pre-Budget Discussion webinar (Web seminar) organized by the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Bangladesh (ICMAB) on the upcoming National Budget for fiscal year (2020-2021) 

Dr. Atiur Rahman, Former Governor of Bangladesh Bank, Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan Former Senior Secretary and Chairman of NBR, Professor Dr. Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Dr. Muhammad Shahadat Hossain Siddiquee, Professor, Department of Economics of University of Dhaka and Ranjan Kumar Bhowmic, Member (Tax Survey & Inspection), NBR and A. K. M. Kuamruzzaman SEVP and Head of Operation, LankaBangla Finance Ltd. joined the Webinar(Web Siminar) as honourable discussants.

ICMAB President Md. Jasim Uddin Akond gave the inaugural speech in the webinar and Md. Mamunur Rashid FCMA, Vice-President of ICMAB presented the proposal paper on proposed National Budget 2020-2021. Prof. Dr. Mahmood Osman Imam, Professor & Former Chairman, Department of Finance, University of Dhaka moderated the session.

ICMAB President Md. Jasim Uddin Akond said that it is a moral duty for the institute to give proper suggestions to the government in various Budget issues. He hoped that CMA professionals will be able to help the government in the process of revenue collection and thus increasing accountability in every sector.

Md. Mamunur Rashid, Vice-President of ICMAB presented the paper on proposed National Budget for fiscal year 2020-2021. Emphasizing on the health sector, Mamunur briefly presented 13 core proposals on behalf of the institute.

These are adding cost statement accompanied by quantitative analysis statement by Cost and management accountants with company returns, increasing the minimum range of tax free income from Taka 2.50 lakh to at least Taka 4 lakh considering the COVID-19 situation; strengthening Food, Agriculture and Medical sector, special incentives for garments and transport system, development of share market and industry sector got importance in this paper.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Atiur Rahman evaluated the audit process as the foremost task for ensuring the quality of expenditure in every sector.

Considering the present worldwide crisis and future, he underlined on the health and medical sector to be more structured and capable than ever.

He said that the next budget should be a ‘health’ budget. “This is our survival budget. Economic development will be nothing if we can’t stay alive.”

Dr Atiur also expressed his hope of recovering the economic losses in the near future through surviving this year. 

He also opined that Bangladesh Bank could play a vital role in this process through inseminating credit guaranty skim.

Former NBR Chairman Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan suggested for cutting down unnecessary costs in various sectors as much as possible.

He also stressed the need for strengthening the health sector and spending more for social security. Besides, Mosharraf said those sectors which are currently out of activities should be given incentives to keep those alive.

Distinguished Fellow of CPD Professor Dr. Mustafizur Rahman said that the next budget is totally different than any other time. “It must be calculated based on health, humanitarian and economic crisis.”

Ranjan Kumar Bhowmic highlighted a different approach on the issue of range of tax payment. 

He said that, if someone is earning more than Taka 2.50 lakh will be entitled to pay 10 percent tax. “So, we can talk about increasing the range. India took a different approach for the marginal tax payers, not by increasing the range but reducing the rate to 5% from 10%. We can think about this kind of approach for the marginal tax payers.”

Dr. Muhammad Shahadat Hossain Siddiquee said, “We must have proper knowledge on tax payment. Many of us are not concerned about it though it is our core liability to the nation. The relevant authorities need to play a strong role on this and thus the revenue collection could be increased.”

A K M. Kuamruzzaman FCMA said that the next budget must focus on survival of people. “If we can survive this year, the next year will be the golden year for us.”