`Public political willingness and culture of accountability fundamental to enhancing tax revenue base’
Dhaka, 17th June 2019: Today EquityBD, a network of right based civil society, labor and farmer organizations, organized a press conference to give reactions on budget 2019-20 titled “Expanding Tax Area Hardly Increase Tax Revenue: Political Willingness of Public to be Enhanced First.”
Speakers expressed concern on the enhanced trend of capital transfer, black money, and default loan and bank charges of the country. They also urged for priority measures on fixing those basic issues by establishing a financial governance. Enhancing accountability of government agencies related to essential services, through establishing complaint response mechanism, citizen charter, and code of conduct of the government employees at the recipient level, the speakers demanded. The speakers urged for grass root public hearing facilitated by the concerned Member of Parliament (MP) so that the political willingness of public rises up and a culture of accountability in the front line is established. This is how the tax revenue could be enhanced and help the country to achieve vision 2021 and 2041.
The press conference was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD while the positon paper is presented by Ahsanul Karim of COAST Trust. Among others Sayed Aminul Haque of EquityBD, Salahuddin Bablu of Economic Reporters Unity (ERU) and Badrul Alam of Bangladesh Krishok Federation spoke in the press conference and welcome address is given by Mostafa Kamal Akhanda of COAST Trust.
Ahsanul Karim of EquityBD said during presenting the position paper that the essential services have to be reviewed and accountability should be enhanced at all level especially in education, health and other essential services. Standard ratio of allocations especially in education and health still low in comparison to UNESCO and WHO standard. It is also important to review different fee system in Banks along with urging interest rate to be kept within single digit. Bangladesh is a still a topline country in capital transfer or illicit flow of money while India have reduced this in the last few years, he added. He proposed the measures for enhancing public accountability and willingness to pay taxes.
Sayed Aminul Haque of EquityBD said that budget implementation should be reviewed in parliament on quarterly basis. He proposed MPs should facilitate open public hearing on tax revenue collection their constituencies and should also listen to why public have apathy toward giving taxes.
Salahuddin Babul of ERU said that MPs’ hardly have participation in budget preparation though they have to fully comply with the principle of Budget with Public Representation. He reiterated the fact that VAT is always regressive although it is easy to collect while in developed countries income and property tax i.e. the direct taxes are more emphasized. He also said that the burden of deficit budget always goes to the public.
The moderator Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said that one of the state principle of Bangladesh is socialism which is the dream of our father of nation, where principle of equality, redistributive justice and social welfare nature of state is fundamental, there by its require unhindered accountability to the public, the budget process hardly reflect the spirit.