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A budget for everyone

  • Published at 02:00 am June 1st, 2017
  • Last updated at 04:09 pm June 1st, 2017
A budget for everyone
From farmers to local industries, the 46th national budget, to be unveiled by the finance minister later today, promises to offer something for everyone. The Tk4,00,266cr budget, some 26% larger than the outgoing budget outlay, is expected to meet long-standing demands from various quarters, with an eye on the national polls scheduled for January 2019. Finance Minister AMA Muhith will place the budget for fiscal year 2017-18 titled “Bangladesh is in development path: This is our time” in parliament at 1:30pm. More than one-third of the revenue target of Tk2,48,000cr is expected to be met from VAT. Many are skeptical of these expectations. The value added tax or VAT – whose rate and reach has been the subject of much speculation and debate – will not be imposed on essential commodities. Agriculture and agricultural products, daily necessities, life-saving medicine and a number of other products will remain untaxed. These exemptions are reported to have originated with instructions from the prime minister. In the outgoing fiscal year, the target for VAT and supplementary duty collection was Tk72,764cr. Early this year, the target was revised down to Tk66,000cr. As of April, only Tk52,842cr had been collected. Pleasant plans The new budget will fund a project to prepare good, durable seeds for pulses, oils and various types of spices for farmers. A Tk9,000 crore subsidy will be kept for agriculture. Of this, Tk4,000cr will be spent on export, Tk500cr on jute goods, Tk5,500cr on electricity, and Tk9,000cr on incentives. Civil servants will get apartments in Dhaka’s Motijheel area. A proposal will be put in the budget to create a business-friendly environment for local traders and businessmen. Additional financial assistance will be provided to the country’s law enforcement agencies. The government will undertake programmes to improve the living standards of rural people. Citizens in rural areas will get 30kg rice and Tk200 cash per month. A project titled “Our Home” will be launched to build shelters for the elderly and for orphaned children. According to the document: “There is a huge development project to be undertaken for the development of roads from cities to villages.” An allocation will be made to meet the demand of the fisheries sector through the development of ponds and canals across the country. To meet the shortage of milk, the government will launch dairy cooperatives in 50 upazilas. In the new budget, the announcement of an overall rural development programme is being planned. Supplementary tariff rates are being revised substantially to protect domestic industries. As a result, the price of some products will increase and the price of others will drop. Products whose prices may rise include imitation jewellery, colour televisions, SIM cards, bicycles, furniture, TV cards, cigarettes, mineral water and soft drinks. The prices of ceiling fans, refrigerators, ceramic crockery, smooth diamonds, smartcards, marble stones and tiles may fall.
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