Describing the proposed national budget for the next fiscal year as an unrealistic one, BNP on Saturday alleged that it has been formulated only for protecting the interests of the government's benefactors.
"This budget is by no means the budget of the common people. It's just a budget for money launderers and those who siphon off dollars,” said BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
He further said, “This year's budget is a completely unrealistic budget at this difficult time of the country. It has been made only for the government-backed people.”
Fakhrul made the remarks while presenting their party’s formal reaction to the national budget at a press conference at the BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office.
Earlier on Thursday, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal presented the budget in Parliament.
Slamming the government for offering amnesty to the money launderers, Fakhrul said the new budget has been formulated to give the looters a scope to legalise and bring back their illegal money home safely.
“This budget has also been made to create an opportunity for the government’s ministers, members of parliament and their relatives and the businessmen to siphon off money abroad,” he observed.
The BNP leader also said the budget has been formulated to allow the ruling party leaders and activists to increase their wealth and make money instead of taking any effective strategy to lower the prices of rice, pulses, salt, sugar, gas, electricity and water and other daily essentials and utility services.
He described the proposed amnesty to money launderers as illegal. "It’s not only immoral but also contrary to the law. It’s also tantamount to pardoning corruption and money laundering."
Fakhrul said this step will make the future of the ongoing money laundering cases uncertain while the launderers will be encouraged to siphon off more money abroad. “This is an unjust, reckless and suicidal move.”
“We think this is also an unconstitutional move which conflicts with the government’s so-called zero tolerance policy against corruption. We strongly condemn it, “he said.
The BNP leader demanded the government annul the scope for legalising the laundered money.
At the same time, he demanded that immediate action be taken against the money launderers by identifying them and confiscating their assets.
Criticising various aspects of the proposed budget, Fakhrul said the new budget is of the businessmen, by the businessmen and for the businessmen. “That means it's a business-friendly budget. Nothing relating to public welfare has been included in the budget.”
He said though the growing inflation rate causing immense public suffering, no step has been taken in the budget to ease their misery. “The tax-free income limit has not been increased and the middle-class people have not been relieved. The import taxes of products that are mainly consumed by the middle-class people have been increased.”
The BNP secretary general also thinks the allocations for the social safety net, health, education and agriculture sectors were not sufficient.
Referring to the budget speech of the Finance Minister on the introduction of digital currency, he said, it is a matter of monetary policy of the Bangladesh Bank. “The Finance Minister can’t interfere in the regulatory jurisdiction of the central bank.”
The BNP leader also bemoaned that the Finance Minister did not say anything about the banking sector that has been grasped by a vicious circle.
He said the minister admitted the rise in the inflation rate but did not make any specific proposal in the budget to control it.
Speaking at the press conference, BNP standing committee member and former health minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said the allocation for the health sector in the proposed budget is typical. “There’s no direction in the budget for addressing the weaknesses that have been identified in this sector during the Covid period.”
BNP standing committee members Mirza Abbas, Nazrul Islam Khan, Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, Selima Rahman and Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku, among others, were present at the press conference.