The think-tank’s formal reaction came a day after Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal presented the Tk 5.23 trillion budget for fiscal 2019-20 in parliament on Thursday. The figure is an increase of an 18 percent from the revised budget the outgoing fiscal year.
“The air is full of promises, but the budget lacks clarity,” said CPD Distinguished Fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya. The proposed budget has increased benefits for the rich, but much less for the poor, according to the CPD.
The budget seems out of sync with the promises laid out in the ruling party’s election manifesto and the seventh five-year plan aiming to empower people, Bhattacharya said. “Instead, many sops like whitening black money for the wealthy are in the budget.”
Budget transparency in financial measures, benefits and taxes eroded significantly, he said. “We’ve seen such transparency in the budgets proposed by Saifur Rahman and [Shah AMS] Kibria. Somehow it’s no longer there,” said the CPD distinguished fellow.
Income inequality between the rich and the poor has been widening significantly in recent years, which is a blow to poverty reduction and accelerating growth, he said.
The government forecasts economic growth at 8.2 percent in the new fiscal year. “The growth is forecast depending on public spending. This may bring the risks of the middle-income trap and jobless growth,” he said.
The country is now facing economic stress, which was not reflected in the budget, Bhattacharya said. “He showed innovation while presenting the budget, but unfortunately, the innovation was not found in his proposals.”