Finance Minister AMA Muhith has once again said the upcoming budget would not offer any opportunity to legalise black money.
"I am telling you now that the provision is cancelled from today," he said at a post-budget press conference at jam-packed Osmani Memorial Auditorium in the capital today.
At several pre-budget discussions over the last one month, Muhith repeatedly spoke of scrapping the provision for whitening black money in the budget for fiscal 2014-15.
However, in Thursday’s budget speech in parliament, the minister carefully stayed away from touching on the issue. He neither said anything about it nor did he include in the money bill any proposal for scrapping the provision.
When reporters raised the issue repeatedly, Muhith yesterday said the government offered the opportunity to legalise the undeclared money in three sectors, including “stockmarket” and housing.
“Tk 34 crore has been whitened in the current fiscal year. From that point of view, there is no black money in the country,” he said.
There would be no scope for whitening black money in the upcoming budget though the issue was not mentioned in Thursday’s budget speech, said the minister.
“We will incorporate it [in the budget],” Muhith said.
The minister mistakenly mentioned stockmarket as one of the sectors enjoying the scope for whitening black money. When reporters pointed to the mistake, he referred the issue to Ghulam Hussain, chairman of the National Board of Revenue.
Hussain said the provision is now applicable to real estate, investments in treasury bills and individuals with a payment of normal tax on undisclosed income and a penalty of 10 percent.
"There is no such scope for stockmarket," he said. "As mentioned by the minister, the provision for the existing sectors will go. But we will have to introduce a bill in parliament on the issue by June 30."
Muhith pointed to land as the biggest source for investment of black money. There is a huge difference between the registered price of the land and its real price.
"This is how the major portion of black money is generated," said the minister.
"We have to think how we can stop generation of black money. But we have not progressed much on the issue."
He said the finance ministry would conduct a study to know the extent of black money in the country and how it is generated.
The ministry will also recommend steps for stalling generation of black money, he said.