The national budget proposals placed by Finance Minister AMA Muhith   for the fiscal year 2018-19 were passed by Parliament yesterday with hardly any changes being made in them.

Parliament passed the Tk 4,64,573 crore budget for the year, themed as ‘Bangladesh on a Pathway to Prosperity’, with a growth target of 7.8 percent.

Parliament also rejected by voice vote a total of 448 cut motions proposed in the names of opposition and independent members on 59 demands for grants for different ministries. A total of nine MPs from the Jatiya Party and independents submitted their cut motions on the budget.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith moved the Appropriations Bill, 2018 seeking a budgetary allocation of Tk 571833, 82, 92, 000 which was passed by voice vote.

Following the proposal mooted in the House by the Finance Ministry for parliamentary approval of appropriation of funds for meeting necessary development and non-development expenditures of the government, the ministers concerned placed justifications for the expenditures by their respective ministries, through 59 demands for grant.

They were allowed to participate in the discussion on Higher Secondary and Higher Education Division, Health Ministry, Local Government Division, Disaster Management Ministry and Railways Ministry.

Later, Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury applied the guillotine to quicken the process of passing the demands for grants for different ministries without giving the MPs any lunch break. Opposition and independent MPs were present in the House when the Appropriations Bill was passed in Parliament.

They did not raise any voice against the passage of the bill. Finance Minister AMA Muhith on June 7 unveiled a Tk 4,64,573 crore ambitious budget for the next fiscal year (2018-19).

Earlier on Wednesday, the House passed the Finance Bill-2018, with some changes in VAT and tariff rates, aiming to boost the ICT sector and promote local industries.

VAT on internet services was lowered to 5 percent from the proposed 15 percent while a 5 percent additional VAT from assembling mobile phone sets was exempted. The prices of 10-stick low category cigarettes increased from Tk 32 to Tk 35 while that of high-category 10-stick cigarettes increased to Tk 105 from Tk 102.

The tariff on per gram Jarda was fixed at Tk 1.20 while that for Gul was Tk 0.60. The supplementary duty from petroleum jelly was waived considering its wide range of use during winter by rural and marginal people.

Ten percent supplementary duty on filament bulbs was scrapped as energy bulbs are still costly for the poor and marginal people. Seven percent additional VAT on locally produced motorcycles was also exempted.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith, who placed his 10th consecutive budget for the AL-led government, well projected the economic developments achieved over the past one decade with the present AL-led alliance in power.

The budget for the next fiscal showed that the government’s revenue earnings would largely depend on National Board of Revenue-generated tax (Tk 2,96,201 crore) followed by other sources like non-tax revenues (Tk 33,352 crore) and non-NBR tax (Tk 9,727 crore). Still, there will be an income-expenditure mismatch of Tk 1,25,293 crore.

As per the Finance Minister’s budget speech, an amount of Tk.54,067 crore (2.1 percent of GDP) will be financed from external sources while an amount of Tk.71,226 crore (2.8 per cent of GDP) will be financed from domestic sources.

Of domestic sources, Tk 42,029 crore (1.7percent of GDP) will be borrowed from the banking system whileTk.29,197 crore (1.2 percent of GDP) will be from National Savings Schemes and other non-bank sources.

Muhith provide relief in the matter of certain company tax by reducing to 37.5 percent from the existing 40 percent, but belying public expectation he preferred keeping the tax-exemption ceiling intact at Tk. 2.5 lakh.

In his sector-wise budget allocation plan, Muhith kept aside the biggest chunk of 14.6 percent for education and technology, followed by 12 percent for transport and communication, 11.1 percent for interest payment, 7.1 percent for subsidies and incentives, 7 percent for local government and rural development, 6.3 percent for miscellaneous expenditure, 5.6 percent each for three sectors -defence, public order and security and pension, 5.4 percent for energy and power, 5.1 percent for social security and welfare, 5 percent for health, 3.7 percent for agriculture and 3.1 percent for public administration.

In the Tk 1, 79, 669 crore development budget, the Finance Minister attached most importance to transport and communication by proposing to allocate 26.6 percent of development budget followed by 16.3 percent for education and technology, 15.7 percent for local government and rural development and 13.8 percent for energy and power.

The Finance Minister kept aside a sizeable amount for expediting the 10 growth-generating large projects, identified as ‘Mega Projects’, which are: Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project, Padma Rail Bridge Project, Ruppur Nuclear Power Project, Rampal Coal Based Power Project, Chattogram-Dohajari to Ramu-Coxes Bazar and Ramu-Gundum Railway Construction Project, Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development Project, Construction of Payra Sea port (First Phase) Project, Sonadia Deep Sea port, Matarbari Ultra Super Critical Coal Fired Power Project and Construction of Maheshkhali Floating LNG Terminal Project.

He re-imposed 25 percent customs duty and 3 percent regulatory duty on rice import to protect local farmers as the country got a bumper paddy production in the Boro season.

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