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National budget of Tk4,68,200 crore to be placed on Thursday

  • Published at 11:10 am June 4th, 2018
  • Last updated at 04:48 pm June 4th, 2018
File photo of Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith Dhaka Tribune

This will be his 12th budget so far and also the last one of the current government in its second term

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith is set to place a mega budget of around Tk4,68,200 crore in parliament on Thursday for the 2018-19 fiscal year ahead of the fast approaching 11th general elections.

Talking to reporters at his Secretariat office on Monday, Muhith, however, did not want to give any exact size of the budget, saying it would be more or less Tk468,000 crore.

Expressing the hope over higher revenue earnings, he said this was a "very helpful indicator' that the number of taxpayers reached around 3.3 million and most of the new taxpayers were young.

"I feel very good after 10 years," Muhith said, adding that when he started people were unwilling to pay taxes due to harassment. "I do not think it exists anymore in the country."

He also indicated that there would be an allocation for the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in the next budget.

The minister is going to set a rare example by placing the 10th consecutive budget of the Awami League government. He will place the budget at 12:30pm that day.

However, this will be his 12th budget so far and also the last one of the current government in its second term.

Though many are viewing the next budget as an election-oriented one, the finance minister, however, trashed such observations during pre-budget discussions.

"All the preparations have been completed," said a Finance Ministry official, adding that preparing the minister's budget speech is also at the final stage.

The budget speech is scheduled to go to BG Press on Tuesday for printing.

The revenue collection target for the coming fiscal year is likely to be fixed at Tk3,40,775 crore, up 18% from that of the current fiscal year. The revenue collection target for fiscal 2017-18 is Tk2,87,990 crore.

Ministry officials said the revenue target will be fixed in such a way so that the budget deficit remains within 5%.

The allocation for Annual Development Program (ADP) for the coming fiscal year is likely to be Tk1,78,296 crore, up from the outgoing fiscal year.

Earlier, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal forecast that Bangladesh will achieve 8% growth by next fiscal year.

The government is likely to set the GDP target for the upcoming fiscal year at 7.8%, said an official.

There might be an announcement to bring more people under the Social Safety Net Program in the next budget, officials said.

There is an indication that there will be another announcement for freedom fighters on enhancing their facilities.

Budget discussions usually begin in March every year, but this time it began in January which the government thinks is a positive thing as it helped them incorporate many things.

"It's not an election-oriented budget. I've been placing budget every year. I've so far placed nine budgets. It'll be the 10th. I'm looking into it in that perspective (of continuous process)," Muhith said in a pre-budget discussion recently.

He said he does not think there will be massive changes that necessitate an election-oriented budget.

Sources at the Finance Ministry said the number of taxpayers has increased significantly and it is still rising. The number of taxpayers has hit around 3.3 million, which was 1.4-1.5 million earlier.

The finance minister indicated that the tax rate will be reduced as the number of taxpayers is on the rise.

He also indicated that corporate tax rate will also be reduced as the young generation is showing a growing interest in paying income tax.

The government is taking necessary steps to form banking commission soon in an effort to look into the reason behind the current vulnerable situation in the financial sector. It is likely to be placed in the upcoming budget.

The government will put emphasis on boosting domestic investment as the government thinks foreign investors will not be interested to invest in Bangladesh if the domestic private sector investors do not come forward.

Muhith is likely to highlight the issue in his budget speech as he thinks the investment climate has improved creating confidence among investors.

He will also highlight steps to strengthen the country's capital market.

Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) President Abul Kasem Khan said they want the upcoming budget to focus on 4Es – empowerment, encouragement, engagement and environment.

The minister will hold a post-budget press conference at 2:30pm on Friday at the Osmani Memorial Auditorium in Dhaka.

On June 1 last year, Muhith had placed the Tk400,266 crore national budget for fiscal year 2017-18.

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