‘Time for big push’

‘Time for big push’

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Describing the revenue target of Tk 2 trillion in the 2015-16 national budget as a ‘challenge’, Finance Minister AMA Muhith says this is the ‘time for a big push’ to take the economy forward.Muhith placed his nearly Tk 3 trillion budget proposals in Parliament on Thursday.On Friday, Muhith addressed the usual post-budget news conference at Osmani Memorial conference centre with four ministers and several secretaries in tow.”If we have to really develop, if we have to sustain a 7 percent GDP growth, then we have to increase our revenues. I have taken up that challenge in my budget and I hope I will be successful,” Muhith said.The finance minister said the “nation is prepared to help us collect revenues worth Tk 2.08 trillion”.”The people are prepared to pay and the NBR is prepared to collect,” he insisted.”We are going to find new taxpayers, we are planning to increase our tax base and we will get people to pay up. The new taxpayers will bring us revenues,” Muhith said, insisting that it will all need a big push.”The time for the big push to augment revenues has come.” Muhith, however, admitted that so far the tax base has not expanded fast enough.”When I took charge as finance minister after the Awami League came to power in January 2009, there were 700,000 taxpayers. Now the number has risen to 1.1 million.”So, he said, the government got the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to do a survey of potential taxpayers recently.On the basis of the NBR survey, Muhith has set a target of drawing 3 million people in the country’s tax base by the end of his government’s current tenure.”These new taxpayers will have to pay up and they will account for a jump in our revenues.”Muhith admitted his revenue targets were “very high” but pointed to a 23 percent revenue growth in a financial year not so long ago.”Keeping that in mind, the government and the NBR has decided to make a big effort,” Muhith said, adding that “big success stories call for big efforts”.Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu and Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal flanked Muhith on the stage during the press conference.Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman, NBR Chairman Md Nojibur Rahman and other senior officials were also present.The NBR chief said he was confident of collecting Tk 2 trillion in revenue.Muhith admitted there were big issues with budget implementation in the past but argued that the situation changed.“We have implemented up to 96 percent of the budget,” he said in defence.The finance minister highlighted Bangladesh’s economic progress with 6 percent growth in the last six years.The economy grew at 6.51 percent in the 2014-15 fiscal.“It will be possible to achieve 7 percent growth in the next fiscal,” an optimistic Muhith said.“The goal will be achieved by increasing investment in public and private sectors.”

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