12:00 AM, June 13, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:15 AM, June 13, 2018

Change of tone in treasury bench

AL MPs laud Muhith only a day after blasting him over scams in banking sector

Awami League lawmakers yesterday lauded the finance minister's role in the development of the banking and other sectors barely a day after they criticised him over scams and irregularities in the banking sector.

Urging others to show respect to Finance Minister AMA Muhith, the MPs said in parliament that those who are speaking against him are doing this to gain political mileage and put the government in danger.

A number of opposition MPs, however, continued to slam the minister for “failure” to restore discipline in the banking sector.

During discussions on the supplementary budget on Sunday and Monday, a number of AL and opposition MPs came down heavily on Muhith for failing to take any action to stop irregularities and mismanagement in the sector.

On Sunday, six AL and Jatiya Party lawmakers blasted the minister for his poor handling of the sector. The following day, several MPs from the AL and opposition parties again sharply criticised him over the issue.

They called upon Muhith to bring discipline to the banking sector, and warned that otherwise the country's economy would collapse.

Despite a blistering attack from the AL and opposition lawmakers, Muhith on Monday kept mum in parliament while participating in discussions on the supplementary budget for        2017-18.

Following his six-minute speech, the House passed Tk 15,339.83 crore supplementary budget to meet the increased expenditures of ministries and divisions.

Yesterday, six AL lawmakers, two JP MPs and a lawmaker from Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal took part in the discussion on the proposed budget for fiscal 2018-19.

None of the treasury bench MPs criticised Muhith -- a complete opposite of what they did in the past two days. Instead, they praised him for his firm leadership and for placing a “very good budget”.

“He [Muhith] is a successful minister. He is a wonder of the country. We should respect and honour the minister, instead of criticising him,” said AL lawmaker Mahmud-us-Samad Chowdhury.

Another AL MP Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said the country's economy is making progress due to the finance minister's firm leadership.

Pointing to widespread criticism of Muhith over scams and irregularities in the banking sector, Khalid said that if looting had really taken place in the banking sector, how could the finance minister place a huge budget?

The lawmaker further said those who are speaking against Muhith are doing this just to gain political mileage.

“Finding no other way to criticise the government, they are now talking about the banking sector to put the government in danger,” he added.

In his speech, JSD lawmaker Nazmul Huq Pradhan said some businesspeople are looting banks, but the finance minister is not taking any action against them.

"Rather, you are giving tax rebates and subsidies to banks ... Make a decision. You can save banks this way, but you will not be able to save the economy," he said.

JP lawmaker Mohammad Noman alleged that the government is patronising the looting of the banking sector.

"Why the banks won't be held accountable? Why should they be subsidised with taxpayers' money?” he asked.

“Instead of punishing them, you are rewarding them ...," added Noman.

Another JP lawmaker, Shameem Haider Patwary, said the corporate tax for banks has been reduced by 2.5 percent. But there is no proposal for similar incentive for the corporate sector players with good business practices.

"You did not reduce the rate for the sector which is doing well. You reduced the rate for the sector where looting is going on ... Looting in the banking sector has surpassed even the plunder of Delhi by Nader Shah."

He said the finance minister offered cookies to “the naughty cat”, but gave nothing to “the good cat”.

"The revenue collection will drop because of this," he added.

On June 7, Muhith placed Tk 464,573 crore budget for fiscal 2018-19 in parliament, which is likely to pass it on June 28.