Sunday, 18 March, 2018

Loan defaulters won’t be allowed in next polls

Published on: 12:14 pm - Tuesday | March 13, 2018

Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Monday said the time has come to put an end to the culture of default loan, assuring that the loan defaulters won’t be allowed to contest in the next polls.

“Now it’s time to think about the loan default culture because this has continued somehow and such strong efforts were not taken to put an end to it,” Muhith said at a pre-budget meeting with economists.

About suggestions for not exempting loan defaulters during the election, Muhith said, “This time I can ensure that this won’t happen. Definitely, it won’t happen.”

Earlier, Prof Rehman Sobhan drew the finance minister’s attention, suggesting that such loan defaulters should not get the chance to take part in the polls.

“Loan default has become an internalised business mode of every business person in Bangladesh.

At the end of the day, there is no moral hazard about defaulting loans,” the seasoned economist asserted.

At the meeting held at city’s NEC auditorium, Muhith hinted that the next national budget’s size would be Tk 475,000 crore which will be placed before Jatiya Sangsad on June 7.

Prof Rehman Sobhan also suggested for imposing penalties for time and cost overrun in implementing most of the development projects, a notion in which the minister also agreed with.

Muhith said there would be substantial decentralisation of power in the tenure of the next government.

Turning to the current situation in the country’s premier bourse Dhaka Stock Exchange, the Minister alleged that “a vested quarter is trying to catch fish in troubled water.”

He, however, was hopeful of reaching a solution to this issue by the weekend with the Prime Minister returning home from abroad by this time.

Talking about the huge burden on Bangladesh with the influx of forcibly displaced Rohingya nationals, Muhith said this is a very big pressure right at the moment while the international community is also trying to help Bangladesh.

Former Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Farashuddin suggested for accommodating some mega-sized textile industries in the countrywide Special Economic Zones to boost strong backwards and forward linkages for the RMG industry and thus help reduce a huge burden of imports from them.

Executive director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr Fahmida Khatun called for addressing the cross-cutting issue of gender inequality for LDC graduation with momentum.

She strongly criticised the trend of re-capitalising the struggling state-banks with taxpayers’ money. She raised questions about the rationale behind bailing out Farmers Bank with public funds.

Distinguished fellow of CPD Prof Mustafizur Rahman thinks that the Tk 475,000 crore budget is logical for the country as the size of the per-capita budget will be around $400.

However, he was not convinced about budgetary discipline because every budget increases revenue earning target by around 35 to 40 percent that exerts huge pressure on National Board of Revenue (NBR).

He suggested increasing the number of taxpayers because income tax collection rate in the country is very low.

He also suggested finalising drafts of some reforms initiatives to improve good governance, which is going to play a critical role in driving the nation to the road to becoming a developed one as well as a welfare state.

He stressed on taking into consideration the increased maritime boundary and blue economy while preparing the budget.

CPD distinguished fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya voiced concern over the fall in local NGOs’ funds after the country’s achieving lower middle-income country status and LDC graduation.

He mentioned that local NGOs played an important role in achieving MDGs in the past and their role will also be important in achieving SDGs. He suggested creating SDG trust fund from where the NGOs can get fund.

The speakers suggested for raising the Advanced Deposit Ratio by the Bangladesh Bank, addressing the structural problem of the banking and the financial sector, addressing the ongoing problem of cost and time overrun in the major and small development projects, attracting more investment in materializing the targets of Vision 2021 and Vision 2041.

The economists and professionals also suggested for raising the FDI, ensuring very effective supervision for roads maintenance, further improving the quality of education, addressing income disparity, launching one-stop service for attracting FDI, and keep maintaining the discipline of the budget.

Former finance minister Dr M Sayeduzzaman, chairman of Industrial and Infrastructural Development Finance Company Limited (IIDFC) M Matiul Islam, former Finance Secretary Dr Mohammad Tareque, Prof Khandoker Bazlul Haque, former Secretary Siddiqur Rahman, Atiqul Islam of North South University, Ifty Islam of AT Capital attended the meeting.

State Minister for Finance and Planning MA Mannan and secretaries concerned were also present at the meeting.

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