Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ruling party lawmakers ask Finance Minister Muhith to speak less

  • Parliament Correspondent,
    Published: 2017-06-19 18:01:04 BdST


Senior Awami League lawmakers have come down hard on Finance Minister AMA Muhith for his statements which they have said embarrassed the government.

The budget for fiscal 2017-18, which Muhith presented on Jun 1, drew criticism from both government and opposition leaders due to increased excise duty to be imposed on bank savings with at least Tk 100,000.

Many of the ministers also opposed Muhith's proposals to reduce interest rates on savings certificates and set the uniform VAT rate at 15 percent.

One of the critics of Muhith in parliament was Senior Awami League MP Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim.

“The Awami League cannot cause sufferings to people. Withdraw the excise duty,” he said in a direct admonition of Muhith during a discussion on the new budget in parliament on Monday.

Selim said Muhith created confusion in the public mind as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pledged to “fix budget-related problems, if any". 

Selim cited Muhith's remark that people who own Tk 100,000 are wealthy. On the other hand, Tk 40 billion is "nothing" to Muhith, said Selim alluding to one of the biggest banking scams in Bangladesh.

In 2012, Muhith said a Tk 40 billion loan given to Hallmark Group by Sonali Bank was insignificant and that it would in no way affect the banking system. The sexagenarian minister later regretted his remarks.

“Your job is to present the budget but the 350 MPs who represent people in the House will ultimately decide what to implement. Talk less and don't be stubborn,” said Selim, a presidium member of the ruling party.

Finance Minister Muhith left the parliament session at one point of the discussion amid a barrage of criticism.

Awami League's Joint General Secretary Mahbub-Ul-Alam Hanif echoed Selim and called on Muhith to stick to the existing rates of excise duty.

He also described the proposal for 15 percent uniform VAT as “illogical.”

The 15 percent uniform VAT will be effective from Jul 1, according to Muhith's proposal.

The value-added tax, which will be effective for the next three years, has been a matter of much controversy as businesses implored the government to lower the proposed rate.