Finance Minister AMA Muhith is set to introduce a pension system for the organised private sector in the upcoming fiscal year in a bid to safeguard the wellbeing of the retirees.
The prominent private sector organisations will be requested to roll out the pension scheme at first and if they do not pay heed, a law will be enacted for that, he told reporters following a pre-budget meeting with non-government organisation representatives.
On the current year's budget, the finance minister said it will be slashed by Tk 11,000 crore from the original outlay of Tk 222,000 crore. The figure will most definitely be around Tk 250,000 crore in the upcoming budget; the exact figure will be finalised after consulting the ministries, he added.
Muhith said a rule is on the way that would give ministers' the authority to approve projects, to expedite project implementation.
At present, the planning ministry approves all projects, which delays matters. “This is not acceptable – the ministers must have certain powers.”
On the use of foreign aid, the finance minister expressed frustration that though commitment has increased, utilisation has not gone up.
At present, the foreign aid commitment is around three percent of GDP but the government can use only 1.7 to 1.8 percent.
Rasheda K Choudhury, executive director of Campaign for Popular Education, recommended allocating 14 percent of the total budget for fiscal 2014-15 to the education sector.
Also a former adviser to a caretaker government, she called for expansion of coverage of stipend for school children and formation of a separate pay commission for teachers.
Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, a trustee of Gonoshasthaya Kendra, urged the government to take more steps to check smoking.
“Smoking is the first step to corruption. To land a job, the aspirant in the first step gives a packet of cigarette to the person in authority as a gift or bribe.”
Chowdhury went on to call for a ban on smokers from government positions and getting admission in public universities.
In response, Muhith said the tax on cigarettes will be increased in the upcoming budget.
Abdul Mannan, general secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon, said the rich are polluting the environment the most and therefore, called for imposing green taxes in the next budget.
MA Aziz, a former cabinet secretary, said the government should formulate a new housing policy to the effect that one will have a house but no one will have more than one.
Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman, Finance Secretary Fazle Kabir, Banking Secretary M Aslam Alam, Economic Relations Division Secretary Mohammad Mejbahuddin and National Board of Revenue Member Syed Md Aminul Karim were also present.