Business leaders and stakeholders in a post-budget webinar on Sunday urged the government to establish separate authorities for ensuring accountability in public expenditure in a bid to curb corruption.
"Accountability is often neglected in public expenditure, even among businesspeople. To ensure that, separate authorities should be formed," Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) President Rizwan Rahman said.
Echoing Rizwan, senior journalist and Head of Online at the Daily Prothom Alo Shawkat Hossain Masum proposed the government form a public expenditure review commission.
The Asia Foundation (TAF), Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID) and Economic Reporters' Forum (ERF) jointly organised the event, in which Planning Minister MA Mannan, Member Secretary of General Economics Division Md Kawser Ahmed were present.
Although the planning minister had no response to the proposals, he lauded the private sector for its support in different government operations.
Rizwan Rahman also called for raising allocation for the social safety programmes considering present realities including floods in the northeastern region. "The proposed budget for the next fiscal year is more business-friendly than people-friendly," he added.
Criticising the proposed increase of power of tax officials, the DCCI president said, "Businesspeople are often harassed while paying tax. If the revenue management system is fully automated, the harassment will decrease," he added.
RAPID Chairman Mohammad Abdur Razzaque said the proposed excessive government borrowing from domestic sources might have a negative impact on investment. "Besides, declining savings due to rising inflation also can reduce investment," he added and criticising reduced budgetary allocations for social safety programmes against GDP.
Speakers also criticised proposed amnesty for bringing back laundered money, saying that it is unethical.
On the issue, Planning Minister MA Mannan said none has laundered money abroad for bringing those back. "I personally believe that with the amnesty, the chance of getting back the laundered money is very little."
Such a facility has been offered considering the current realities, he said, adding that if the money comes from abroad, then it will be good, if not, there will be no loss. "Such an amnesty should be offered only once. The government must not repeat it."
GED Member Secretary M Kawser Ahmed highlighting various steps of the government to contain inflation. "The government knows very well what needs to be done, but the financial capability matters."