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Budget should promote economic and social equilibrium

Editorials 2022-06-13, 11:05pm



The proposed national budget for 2022-23, with the largest ever in outlay of over Taka 6 trillion, has attempted to do some good to the poor, but it's pro-rich features have made those insignificant. Plus higher rate of borrowing and deficit financing would make reining in inflation a difficult task and this would be an added disadvantage to the poor who have been hit hard by sky-rocketing prices of essentials. 

Economists have shown that the poor and fixed income people would gain little from the fiscal measures proposed in the budget but the same will benefit the rich and the corporate entities. It's true that the country should solidify the industrial base and export-oriented industries because after the graduation from a least developing country to a developing country from the year 2026, the ldc benefits from developed economies would no longer be forthcoming.

But what development is for and for whom. The poor is the hardest hit now. What their state can be is easily understood when one takes into account the price hike - even coarse rice is not available for less than Taka 50 a kg while edible oil costs more than Taka 200 a litre. Costs of vegetables have also gone up because of high transportation costs. But compared to that the income of the poor and the fixed income people has not increased.

Earnings of the poor fluctuate but prices of essentials show no signs of remaining stable not to talk about coming down. Taxable income limit has remained fixed at Taka 300,000 but the income of the fixed income people have eroded on many counts. But the rich have been allowed 15 percent rebate on income tax while corporate tax has been reduced. CPD has said that those with annual income below 15 lakh will derive no tax benefits while people with higher income will get more tax benefits from rebate. Government heavily relies on Value Added Tax which even a beggar pays without realising this.

Will the Finance Minister give a fresh look at what kind of society he has planned to build based on the outlays and the taxation proposals. As per the Constitution all men are equal. Economic measures of the government should not only ensure equality of opportunities for all but also special measures to improve the living standards of those who fall behind in the economic ladder. The Finance Minister should think about the tax-free income limit and also withdraw the benefits given to the rich on this score.

To quote a former resident coordinator of the United Nations in Bangladesh, David Lockwood, who way back in 1998 observed, it's nice to see poor people of Bangladesh coming in smiling faces to others moving in luxurious motor cars. That was 24 years ago. Today's rich people are doing so much of show-ups and care so little about ordinary economic and societal values that the day might not be far away when the poor might start turning their back to rich ones who might be blamed for their miseries. One prime objective of economic policy should be to help promote social and economic equilibrium.