The Governance Policy Explore Center (GPEC), a research organization, has organized a zoom webinar and a pre-budget discussion session on the upcoming budget of the financial year 2021-22 in the capital last evening. The talks focused on several issues, including the need to reduce deficit financing due to Covid-19, the need for the government to borrow from the domestic sector without raising taxes, reinstate consumer and business confidence and speed up immunization.

GPEC Senior Research Fellow (Honorary) and Professor of Economics Department, Begum Rokeya University Dr. Md. Morshed Hossain has presented the keynote paper in the webinar titled 'Pre-Budget Dialogue 2021-22'. Welcoming the meeting, the executive director of the organizing organization GPEC Dr. Mizanur Rahman has started the webinar. The webinar was moderated by Razib Parvez, Director, Basic Bank and Chairperson, GPEC.

In the keynote paper, it has been said at the outset that while preparing the proposed budget structure for the fiscal year 2021-22, the main objective in this year's budget is to address the Covid-19, but now Bangladesh has the Second Perspective Plan (2021-2041) and the Eighth Five Year Plan (July 2020-June 2025). In the context of transition to the country, the goal of this fiscal year should be to keep the development activities currently underway with economic recovery. The government will have to spend a lot of money on this. Therefore, in the fiscal year 2021-22, the government will have to adopt expansionary monetary policy and fiscal policy. Deficit financing will have to be done as there is a possibility of less revenue and other income due to Covid-19. Therefore, the government should plan to borrow from the domestic sector without raising taxes. In addition, efforts should be made to increase foreign aid to finance the deficit. New foreign investment policies, new industrial policies, and trade policies can be formulated in a changed context to attract foreign investment. To increase private investment, a private investment-friendly policy should be adopted. Although the GDP growth targets have been ambitious in previous years, the current GDP growth target needs to be 7 percent in the budget for the coming 2021-22 fiscal year. The Covid-19 epidemic has hit the health sector hard, increased new poverty in the country, damaged agriculture, and small and medium enterprises disrupted the education sector, and left millions unemployed - there are no statistics on the total damage in the country. Therefore, to rehabilitate and take forward development activities in these affected sectors, more allocation needs to be made in the budget on a priority basis to the health sector, poverty alleviation and social security sector, agriculture sector, industry, education and human resource development, employment generation, reduction of regional inequality and infrastructure development. The government's stimulus package for tackling the Covid-19 epidemic and economic recovery should continue in this fiscal year as well. To increase revenue, the income tax rate can be increased from 25% to 30% for high-income people earning more than Taka 6 lacks. Many rich people at the Divisional, District, Upazila and village level should also be brought under income tax. To bring transparency in the collection of VAT, it is necessary to introduce the Electronic Fiscal Device (EFD) machine of the business organizations from the new financial year. In addition, property and property taxes will have to be introduced. For citizens who are pensioners above 65 years of age the only source of income is interest on pensions or savings. Exemption from filing their income tax returns. Corporate tax to attract more local and foreign investment to increase capacity 2.5% from the previous rate this year. Reduce income tax on share dividends to 10%. Withdrawal of advance income tax and advance VAT on industrial raw materials for 1 year, reduction of source tax to 0.25 for development of export-oriented industries, withdrawal of 15% supplementary tax and 1% surcharge on internet services for providing mobile, laptop, and low-cost internet facilities to the students for educational purpose. And in the next budget, it is recommended to cancel the opportunity to legalize undisclosed money in this article.

Pro vice-chancellor of Bangladesh University of Professionals and GPEC Advisor Prof. Dr. M Abul Kashem Mozumder has chaired the webinar. Other participants of the session are Mohammad Abdul Quyuum, former Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management, Mr. Rahel Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer of Nogod, Prof. Dr. Abdur Rashid Sarkar, Department of Economics, University of Rajshahi, Prof. Dr. Mohaammad Sheikh Shahidullah, Office Secretary, Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA), Prof. Dr. Jebunnessa, Department of Public Administration, Jahangirnagar University. Prof. Dr. Shamim Al Mamun, Department of Environmental Science and Resource Management, Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University, Dr. Santosh Kumar Dev, Associate Professor, Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, University of Dhaka, Barrister Arafat Hossain Khan, Lawyer of Bangladesh Supreme Court, Advocate Syed Mahbubul Alam, Secretary of Center for Law and Policy Affairs, Fouzia Haque FCA, Naznin Nahar, Editor of Tech-world Bangladesh, Kazi Hasan Robin, Associate Professor, CSE World University of Bangladesh,  Sheikh Adnan Fahad, Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism & Media Studies and Halima Haque, Assistant Professor, Department of Public Administration, Jahangirnagar University.

The speakers at the webinar discussed allocating 8 to 12 percent of the total budget in the health sector, decentralization of health services, introduction of inclusive health policy, allocation for mental health development, increase allocation in the ICT sector and encourage the creation of domestic IT companies And facilitation of borrowing, incentives for those who are bringing in foreign exchange through freelancing, allocating 4% of GDP to education, launching training projects on the use of information technology, bringing in foreign funds to combat climate change, incentives to encourage digital transactions, agriculture Budget allocation for supply chain infrastructure, implementation and feedback 6 months after the budget, interest-free laptop loans to students, good governance in budget implementation, the extension of government incentive loans to five years instead of one year and emphasis is placed on providing opportunities to legalize undisclosed funds in terms of job creation.

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