Muhith Pledges Package Within 10 Days
Saturday, 04 April 2009

The government will unveil in "eight to 10 days" a recovery package for exporters hit by the global recession, the finance minister said Wednesday.

"We're now assessing the needs of different sectors," AMA Muhith told reporters. "We are hoping to come up with an integrated recovery package in the next eight to 10 days."

The recovery package will be based on the recommendations of the recession taskforce, which he himself heads.

The 27- strong high-level taskforce was formed on Mar. 17 to suggest measures to offset the negative impacts of the global meltdown on Bangladesh's economy.

The minister did not give details, saying nothing was finalised yet. "But the vulnerable sectors will be given more time to repay their loans so that they do not become defaulters."

Black money whitening debate

The finance minister said the cabinet will have the final word on whether black money will be allowed to be whitened, although "I am ethically against giving any such scope".

Business leaders including the FBCCI chief have been pressing for low-interest government bonds for black money holders. Annisul Huq told the NBR chief last week 7.5 percent bonds for black money would help recession recovery.

"I've not deviated a bit from my position– against allowing black money whitening, but the decision must be made considering the overall situation," the minister said.

His comments came after a meeting with Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) leaders, who pleaded to allow black money to buy their flats or apartments "without asking any question".

The minister said he had not made any commitment to the REHAB team.

"A number of MPs have had their varied opinions on giving scopes for legalising undisclosed income," the minister said.

"There will be more discussions with other MPs before the cabinet comes to a final decision."

Still optimistic about GDP growth

Ruling out the Asian Development Bank forecast that the GDP growth would be lowest in five years, the finance minister said he was still hoping for a 6 percent growth in the current fiscal.

The Manila-based ADB on Tuesday in its 'Asian Development Outlook 2009' said Bangladesh's economic growth would slow down in FY 2009 significantly due to pressures on exports, remittances and revenues caused by the global financial meltdown.

The ADB reported that GDP growth would fall to 5.6 percent in FY 09 from 6.2 percent in the previous fiscal.

It also projects a decline in growth to 5.2 percent in FY 10.

"A look at the main indexes of the economy indicates that our GDP will see a 6 percent growth," Muhith said, rejecting the ADB prediction.

Muhith cited usually faster annual development work in the last there months to substantiate his claim.


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