Changes in stimulus likely
Finance Minister AMA Muhith has hinted at bringing about some changes in the government's stimulus package announced for some recession-hit sectors, if necessary.
While responding to queries in parliament yesterday, the minister said the taskforce, formed with an aim to weather out fallout from the financial crisis worldwide, will review the package execution in its next meeting Thursday.
On investment sluggishness, Muhith pointed his finger at the global economic meltdown.
“We must admit that investment is not taking place properly in many cases because of recession and we will not be able to come out of the current situation easily," he told the House.
The present excess liquidity in banks shows that the country's economy is not on track, he said.
The minister figured out a Tk 347.62 billion surplus liquidity in June 2009, while it was Tk 129.89 billion in the same month a year earlier.
An uncertainty that loomed over the investment scenario also led to a little slump in private credit flow, he further informed lawmakers.
"It's not because of our monetary policy,” Muhith told a questioner.
The minister, however, shared his hope with fellow Awami League lawmaker Abdul Mannan that a better situation is at the year-end.
“The investment situation may take a positive turn once the government goes for PPP (private-public partnership) implementation,” he said.
In this context Muhith identified power and energy constraint as the main impediment to investment.
The finance minister also placed a comparative study of state-run and private banks with regard to deposits and disbursement of loans, showing a poor performance by the state banks.
Up to June 2009, state bank deposits reached Tk 83,992.01 crore, while the amount of loans was Tk 49,501.58 crore. The loan against deposit in the state-run banks was 58.94 percent, Muhith told the parliament.
During the time, deposits in private banks stood at Tk 160,015.84 crore and loans Tk 138,776.39 crore, he said, figuring out loans against deposits at 86.73 percent.
He also pointed to more transactions in private banks than in state banks despite a higher interest the private banks charge.
Quality and quick modern services, diversified banking products and prompt disposal of loan applications are some factors that contributed to the rise in consumers in private banks, the minister said.
On new pay scale, Muhith said the recommendations the National Pay Commission put forward in line with basic needs of life, inflation, social status and ethical values of public servants will be implemented soon.
He also made it clear that salary of every public servant will be raised.
He further informed the House that currency notes inscribed with the portrait of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman will hit the market soon.
In reply to a query of AL lawmaker Zobeda Khatun, the minister said a national tax tribunal is on the card, which is likely to pick up district judges to run it.
“There is no plan to run mobile courts for raising the number of income tax payers,” he said, adding that the present number of such tax payers is around 23 lakh and of them around seven lakh submit their returns regularly.
However, the minister pointed to the fact that the government has already started survey work to net more income tax payers.
He turned down any speculations on appointment of district judges for the tax appellate tribunal replacing the members of National Board of Revenue.
The minister also expressed his firmness to draw a curtain on the culture of people's harassment, building up a positive image of tax officials.