Muhith grows testy

Finance minister AMA Muhith ranted in a familiar outburst on Friday, evidently misinterpreting apprehensions.

bdnews24.com
Published : 11 June 2010, 08:43 AM
Updated : 11 June 2010, 08:43 AM
Dhaka, Jun 11 (bdnews24.com)—Finance minister AMA Muhith ranted in a familiar outburst on Friday, evidently misinterpreting apprehensions.
Although the questioner mentioned apprehensions of the Centre for Policy Dialogue over achieving a 6.7 percent growth as projected in the budget, Muhith replied, "Those who believe that we should aspire for 8 or 9 percent growth are living in a fool's paradise."
"Simply in a fool's paradise," he repeated.
Reporters, however, had only referred to the doubt that the Dhaka-based research organisation, had mentioned earlier in the morning.
The CPD had suggested that the budgetary measures were not such that it would ensure a near 7 percent growth as the finance minister had projected during his budget speech on Thursday.
Muhith, however, admitted that even 6.7 percent would indeed be challenging.
"I myself expressed reservations about achieving the target," he told the post-budget press conference at the National Economic Council.
The finance minister betrayed his disappointment with the criticism when he spoke about the lagging tax-GDP ratio.
"Sure it's low, but we have increased it by 0.7 percent and we target to increase it by another 0.5 percent in the next fiscal."
Replying to a query on the hike of over 16 percent in defence, he said that the high allocation was made for the procurement of military hardware.
"For years, there has been no such purchase and it has fallen upon our shoulders to make the purchase."
On his suggestion that CNG prices be increased, the finance minister pointed out that currently natural gas was sold for a fourth of octane.
"The price structure is such that you are creating a ripe situation for wastage of natural gas."
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Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher