Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told the Parliament on Tuesday that legal proceedings are underway to recover the money laundered from the country based on specific information, The minister, in reply to a tabled question from Jatiya Party MP Mashiur Rahman Ranga, said that due to various procedural and legal complications, recovery of laundered money takes a long time. He also mentioned that determining the amount of laundered money is very difficult. He, however, reiterated the government’s determination to bring home the laundered money. Various development organisations and research organisations use different methodologies to estimate the amount of money smuggled out of the country. “But even those organizations do not claim to be accurate in their methodologies,” he said. The finance minister said, the reports of these organizations show conflicting information about the amount of money laundered from Bangladesh. “In fact, quantifying money laundering is extremely difficult. But regardless of the scale or amount of money laundering from the country, the government is determined to stop the possible sources of money laundering as well as prevent money laundering and bring the money back to Bangladesh,” Kamal said. He said that for this purpose, all the government’s agencies are working together. Read more: Finance Minister Mustafa Kamal urges global leaders to ease economic crisis The finance minister expressed hope that money laundering will reduce to a large extent in the future due to the government's actions. Kamal said that Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) has been collecting information from foreign financial intelligence agencies about smugglers or smuggled money and providing it to various investigating agencies including the Anti-Corruption Commission, CID of Bangladesh Police and the National Board of Revenue. He also said that several cases related to buying flats or houses abroad (including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Canada etc.) or in any other manner are currently under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission. Besides, proceedings of several cases related to money laundering filed by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Bangladesh Police are ongoing. On the other hand, the inter-agency task force under the leadership of the Attorney General is working to recover the money smuggled abroad. Besides, the Ministry of Home Affairs has been designated as the central authority to provide mutual assistance in matters related to crime in order to ensure mutual legal cooperation with various countries. In response to a question from Workers Party MP Lutfun Nesa Khan, the finance minister said that Bangladesh is far below the risk limit as per the percentage of foreign debt-GDP. He said that the economy of Bangladesh is at a risk-free and satisfactory level in terms of foreign loans. Read more: $4.5bn IMF loan: 1st instalment expected next Feb, says Mustafa Kamal The finance minister claimed that there is no major risk in the medium and long term repayment of Bangladesh's foreign debt. Quoting the IMF report, the minister said that Bangladesh is risk-free in terms of foreign debt including domestic debt till 2032. In reply to another query, the finance minister said that 217 people have been sent to jail for defaulting on loans during the tenure of the current government. The incident of taking 12 farmers to jail for defaulting on loans (in Pabna) is related to Bangladesh Sambay Bank Ltd. It is not a scheduled bank under Bangladesh Bank. The minister also said it is not appropriate to comment on the issue of sending loan defaulters to jail as it under the jurisdiction of the courts.
Bangladesh has planned to import 5.46 million (54.6 lakh) metric tons of petroleum for 2023. Of these bulk petroleum, some 3.860 million (38.60 lakh tons) is refined petroleum while the remaining 1.6 million (16 lakh) MT is crude petroleum. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in a meeting, with Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the chair, on Wednesday gave approval in principle to two separate proposals in this regard, placed by the Energy and Mineral Resources Division. State-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) will import the entire petroleum. As per the proposal, 1.6 million MT of crude petroleum will be imported from ARAMCO of Saudi Arabia and ADNOC of Abu Dhabi through a direct procurement method. The refined 3.8 million MT petroleum will be imported from different countries under G2G basis. However, the sources of the import and the quantities were not disclosed. These proposals will come to the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP) for final approval and at that stage, the details of the proposals might be disclosed. Normally Bangladesh imports half of its refined petroleum through G2G basis through negotiation and the remaining half from the international market through international tender. Both in the negotiation process and tender process and negotiation process, only premium is set for the import while the petroleum rate is fixed on the basis of market rate through a certain formula. Read: Country has adequate stocks of petroleum fuel: Energy Division “Chattogram Metropolitan Sewerage Project for Patenga Catchment” The CCEA also approved in principle another proposal titled “Chattogram Metropolitan Sewerage Project for Patenga Catchment” to implement it through public-private partnership (PPP). The Local Government Division placed the proposal while its subordinate body Chattagram WASA will implement the project in order to build an environment-friendly sanitation system in South Patenga and surrounding areas under the Chattagram City Corporation. No detail of the project’s cost was disclosed in the meeting.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has said those who own flats or lands in Dhaka city are black money holders. “The existing system of the government make them owners of the black money”, he said while virtually briefing on the outcomes of the two consecutive meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) and the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP) on Wednesday. Responding to a question he said owners of lands or flats register their properties at much lower rates than the actual. The government’s registration fees of lands and flats have been fixed. But flat or land owners register their properties showing much lower rate to evade the taxes which make them owners of black money, he said. For instance, he said, if price of a flat in Gulshan is Tk 10 crore, it’s owner register it showing Tk 2 crore. Also Read: Law bars asking questions about laundered money: Finance Minister “So, in that sense, almost all the flat or lands owners in Dhaka city are black money holders”, he said. Kamal again defended the government’s recent amnesty for the money launderers and black money whitening steps saying that money becomes black due to the government’s improper systems. Due to the flaws in the government system, people get the chance to evade taxes, he added.
An amount of Tk 28,781 crore has been proposed for the Public Security and Security Service divisions under the Home Ministry in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2022-23, up by Tk 1893 crore, from the outgoing fiscal year 2021-22. Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal announced the proposed budget while addressing budget speech in the National Parliament today (Thursday). Of the total allocation, Tk 24,594 crore has been allocated for the Public Security division, while the remaining Tk 4,187 crore for the Security Service division. These allocations include important state agencies providing security and emergency services such as the police, the Fire Service, etc.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has said that US$ 80 billion is being planned for investment by 2030 to achieve climate resilience. Presenting his plan in parliament in his budget speech on Thursday, he said the government is going to implement the ‘Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan’, which is essentially a strategic investment framework for climate financing to move from climate risk to sustainable climate prosperity. The investment will be funded by both domestic and external sources, he added. He said that considering the immense importance of environmental protection, the government has made it mandatory to follow a pragmatic and inclusive environment-friendly plan in all development activities while addressing the risks of climate change. As part of the implementation of the global carbon emissions reduction target, the country’s updated ‘Nationally Determined Contribution’ was finalised in August 2021. By 2030, the target of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions has been set at 6.73 percent with the country’s own financing and technological capabilities. Also read: Budget FY23: Tk5,000 crore earmarked to combat pandemic Another 15.12 percent of this emission reduction has been provisioned subject to the availability of international funding and technical assistance. On the other hand, the process of formulating a ‘National Adaptation Plan’ to determine the long-term integrated adaptation strategy together with an action plan to tackle the country’s climate change is at the final stage. He said the updating of ‘Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan’ formulated in 2009 is in progress. In addition, steps have been taken to make all existing industries and newly established industries environment friendly. Following this, new decisions have already been taken on installation of 10 coal-fired power plants worth 12 billion USD with the generation capacity of 8,600 MW. Of these plants 4 have been canceled and the remaining 6 will be renewable or gas-based, on the basis of a feasibility study. We are working on ensuring availability of 40 percent of our energy resources from renewable sources by 2041. So far, 13 areas of the country have been declared as Environmentally Critical Areas on the basis of the finding of scientific studies aimed at conserving biodiversity and the natural environment, said the finance minister. In the last 13 years, a total of 35 new protected areas have been created, including 9 National Parks, 18 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 3 Eco-parks, 1 Botanical Garden, 2 Marine Protected Areas, and 2 Special Biodiversity Conservation Areas, bringing the total number of protected areas in the country to 51, said the financial minister.
The Government has allocated Taka 1,282 crore for the Youth and Sports Ministry in the proposed annual budget for the 2022-23 fiscal, little-changed from the amount in the outgoing 2021-22 fiscal’s revised budget of Tk 1,264 crore. Of the proposed allocation of Tk 1,282 for the next financial year, Tk 876 crore shown as operating cost and Tk 406 crore shown as development expenses. The budget allocation for the 2021-22 fiscal was Tk 1,122 crore, which was later raised to Tk 1,264 crore in the revised budget, which is a rare occurrence since allocations are usually revised downwards. Also read: Budget FY23: Laundered money to be legalized by 7-15 pc tax In a budget speech at the Jatiya Sangsad on Thursday (June 9), Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said the government has been constructing and developing various sports infrastructures including modern stadiums, gymnasiums, and swimming pools, with the aim of improving the quality of sports and augmenting sporting and athletic opportunities. There are 8 (eight) ongoing projects in Fiscal Year 2021-22 for construction and development of sports infrastructure, one of which is the construction of Sheikh Russell Mini Stadium as an Upazila Level project. Side by side, the government seeks to invest in training for the players by skilled and experienced coaches with the aim of producing skilled players, improving the quality of rural sports and provision of long term trainings for talented players, selected through talent hunts). In addition, regular financial grants and sports equipment are being allocated to various sports federations/associations/organizations for organizing sports events and participation in domestic and international sports events. The Sheikh Kamal National Sports Council Award has been introduced to promote the sports, which is being awarded to the eminent athletes/organisers.
Women empowerment and child development sector will receive an allocation of Tk 4,290 crore, for fiscal year 2022-2023 which was Tk 4,190 crore in outgoing fiscal year 2021-2022. Proposing the allocation, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said they have given importance to five areas in the forthcoming budget to implement the strategic objectives of the government for women’s empowerment and child welfare. Also read:Budget FY23: Laundered money to be legalized by 7-15 pc tax These include food assistance for vulnerable mothers (VGD) programmes, mother and child benefit programmes on life-cycle basis, child development centres and adolescent empowerment programmes, technical, vocational, income-generating and productive training for women and prevention of violence against women. Regarding women empowerment, he said they will give importance to the skill development of young women, especially in professional and technical fields. “We will consider on a priority basis activities such as adopting effective and robust institutional strategies for gender equality and women empowerment, allocating adequate funds and manpower to bring the gender issue into the mainstream and increasing skilled manpower in technology.” “In continuation of the 7th Five Year Plan, we are implementing various activities for establishing a gender inclusive society and empowering women following the strategies worked out in the 8th Five Year Plan,” he said. Besides, micro-credit activities are being carried out to improve the socio-economic condition of rural poor and helpless women for poverty alleviation and affording opportunities for self-employment. “Loan disbursement is going on in 488 upazilas of 64 districts on a revolving basis with the allotted funds,” said Kamal. In child development, they are also giving importance in the forthcoming budget on providing essential healthcare, ensuring availability of food and nutrition, ensure access to education, training and development for the children. Necessary steps will be taken to impart healthcare knowledge among adolescents. “We are taking into account the nutrition-sensitive approach and the priority of poor families including children in social security programmes,” he added.
Fifty lakh low-income households will get food assistance of 30 kg of rice each month at the rate of Tk15. The assistance will be given in the lean seasons- September, October and November and March and April, said Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in his budget speech on Thursday. The national budget gives priority to enhance food production and supply chain management of food items to keep the domestic commodity market stable, said the minister. The global food production, procurement, storage and the entire supply chain including agricultural marketing systems faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, said the minister. Also Read: Finance Minister starts unveiling Tk 678,064 cr national budget Despite the crisis arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, Bangladesh is able to keep the production of agriculture uninterrupted in the country and achieve food and nutrition security thanks to the very timely initiatives of the government, he added. The government is distributing 5 lakh MT of rice and 5.09 lakh MT of wheat flour in the current fiscal year 2021-2022 and this programme in the FY 2022-23 will continue.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal listed six major challenges including containing inflation and enhancing domestic investment for the fiscal year 2022-2023 as he unveiled the budget in an –audio-visual format fully for the first time on Thursday. Financing additional subsidy required for the increased price of gas, power and fertilizer in international markets and utilizing funds available through foreign assistance and ensuring timely completion of high priority projects are also listed as the challenges based on discussions, proposals and analysis. The finance minister said ensuring timely completion of projects in education and health sectors; increasing collection of local Value Added Tax and raising the number of individual tax-payers and maintaining stability in the exchange rate of taka and keeping foreign exchange reserves at a comfortable level are also among the major challenges. Kamal expressed his optimism that Bangladesh will be able to return to the path of development in the next fiscal year by effectively addressing the adverse situation arising from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Also read: Budget FY23: Power and energy receive reduced allocation of Tk. 26,066 crore While placing the national budget for the fiscal year – 2022-2023 on Thursday, he told parliament that they had brought back the country’s economy into the mainstream by overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The priority of this year’s budget is to improve the livelihood of people at all levels, continue with uninterrupted economic development and employment generation, and contain inflation in parallel to addressing economic effects originated from COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, said the finance minister. “The resilience of our economy depends on the strength of bouncing back by the communities combined with bold and courageous leadership,” he said. Kamal said they have to be very pragmatic in addressing these challenges as any failure to address them properly may destabilize the macroeconomic stability. “Our major strategy would be to enhance the supply while reducing the growth in demand. Therefore, import-dependent and less important government expenditures will be stopped or reduced,” he said. Kamal said the pace of implementation of the low-priority projects will be lowered while enhancing the implementation of high and medium priority projects. He said the sales price of fossil fuel, gas, electricity and chemical fertilizers will be adjusted gradually and on a small scale. “The automation process regarding tax collection will be expedited with a view to gearing up revenue mobilization activities and VAT and income tax coverage will be expanded. Import of luxury and dispensable goods will be restrained and under/over-invoicing will be cautiously monitored. The exchange rate of Taka against the US dollar will be kept competitive,” Kamal said.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has said the dream project Padma Bridge will lead to an unprecedented improvement in the communication system connecting the capital with the southern part of the country. “As a result of the bold steps taken by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, it has been possible to complete the construction work of the 6.15 km long Padma Bridge with the own funds of the government of Bangladesh,” he told Parliament while placing the national budget for the fiscal year – 2022-2023. Also read: Finance Minister starts unveiling Tk 678,064 cr national budget The bridge is expected to be opened to traffic on June 25. With a view to building transport and communication systems that support industry and trade in the country, the government is implementing a number of mega projects, one of which is the Padma Bridge, said the finance minister. Another project, construction of 3.32 km Bangabandhu Shiekh Mujibur Rahman tunnel under the Karnaphuli River, is about to be completed and the tunnel is expected to be opened to traffic by December 2022, he said.