Govt Advised To Tailor 'Austerity Budget'
Sunday, 29 March 2009

Seven parliamentary watchdogs have asked the government to row back on an austerity plan for the 2009-10 budget to face the global recession, the finance minister said Sunday.

They have strongly recommended a cap on all possible unnecessary spending in the next budget to offset the negative impacts of the ongoing recession, AMA Muhith told reporters after a pre-budget discussion with the parliamentary standing committees.

"We've already reeling under deep recession, the coming 2010 is going to be very tough."

At the meeting held at the National Economic Council in the capital's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, the committee members marked agriculture as one of the major tools to combat the meltdown fallouts.

The parliamentary standing committees included those on finance, planning and commerce ministries.

"They proposed giving special importance to agriculture so that domestic production boosts and the farmers get proper prices for their produce," Muhith said.

The panels suggested the government eased the tax-paying systems and explore new areas for revenue.

On the question of the proposed government scheme on whitening black money or undisclosed income gotten illegally, the members were divided in three groups.

"Some committee chairmen and members proposed that no-one be allowed to whiten black money," Muhith said. They argued giving such scope is unethical and the government should not go for it.

Some favoured the move to boost investment in the wake of huge negative impacts on Bangladesh's economy by the global recession.

A few others suggested black money be legalised through buying low-interest bonds.

"The decision time is yet to come. There will be more discussions with the other standing committees before a final decision on black money is made," Muhith said.

"As we're expecting, with the recession receding away by the end of 2010, opportunities will be created in the world market. To grab those opportunities, investment has to be boosted."

Asked whether the current Tk 90000 crore budget would be revised in the face of recession, the finance minister said, "Maybe. There will be a statement from the finance ministry in couple of days."


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