a network of right based civil society, labor and farmer organizations, organized a virtual press conference to give reactions on budget 2020-21 titled “Stopping Illicit Capital Flight Should be Highest Priority in Domestic Resource Mobilization”. The speakers expressed concern on the enhanced trend of illicit capital flight, black money, and default loan of the country. They also urged for earning more revenue by tackling illicit financial flows rather than dependence on tax specially VAT as indirect tax and bank loan. The virtual press conference was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD while the positon paper is presented by Ahsanul Karim of COAST Trust. Among others Sayed Aminul Haque and Ferdous Ara Rumee of EquityBD; Dr. Kazi Maaruful Islam, Professor Development Studies, Dhaka University; Aamanur Rahman from CARE Bangladesh; Prodip Kumar Roy from CSRL spoken in the occasion.
Keynote speaker Md. Ahasanul Karim mentioned that the goverment has declared 5,68,000 crore budget for 2020-21 where deficit budget is Tk.1,90,000 crore and that’s why govt. is heavily depending on tax collection specially the VAT (value added tax) an indirect tax and bank loan. On the other hand government is not giving emphasis on tackling illicit financial flow from where huge revenue could be collected As per Washington-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI) March 2020 report, a total of Tk.4,48,000 crore had been siphoned off Bangladesh during 2008-2014 and yearly average 64,000 crore through corruption, bribery, trade miss-invoicing and tax evasion. This amount is more than two times of allocated Padma Bridge or two years of health budget. He also urged (i) Government should show zero tolerance to the corruption, bank looting, earning black money and illicit fund transfer, (ii) Inter-governmental agreement to be signed with different countries e.g. with Switzerland to exchange bank transaction information of Bangladeshi people as well as foreigners those are working in Bangladesh and take legal initiatives to return back the money, (iii) Govt. should replicate different Indian initiatives e.g., demonetization, to arrest black money (vi) Publishing White Paper to disclose on financial plundering and money siphoned off from Bangladesh by different businessmen, politicians and whose name came in different newspapers including in Panama papers.
Professor Dr. Kazi Maruful Islam of Dhaka University said, these are little of effort being observed from state to arrest corruption and siphoning of money, beneficiaries are some high government employees, businessmen, politicians and engineers, whole state of affairs is like a system of “crony capitalism”.
Amanur Rahman of CARE Bangladesh said that while government has lot of rules especially in respect of bank transaction, but hardly able to imply those on rich people. He criticized recent government circular on 100 % foreign investment in e-commerce.
Syed Aminul Haque of COAST said that government should not allow investing black money to the share market and in property purchase. Fardous Ara Rumee of COAST said that tax and process should be made easy so that it will support women empowerment and women entrepreneurs.
The moderator Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of COAST said that it is the poor garment workers and immigrant Bangladeshi workers hard earned foreign currency being siphoned from the country, which is defeat on principles of liberation war and a set back from re-distributive justice.