Opposition lawmakers on Sunday in parliament came down heavily on the government for its failure to check price hike of rice and other essential commodities.
They also strongly criticised the finance minister for imposing new VAT regime on the country’s newspaper industry.
The new VAT regime to be enforced from July 1, will require newspapers to deposit with the national exchequer 15 percent VAT on advertisements within 45 days of submitting bills to the advertisers.
Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Raushan Ershad in a statement expressed grave concern over the price hike of rice, the staple of the country.
“Price of price keeps rising. Poor people are worried over the rice price hike. All the government’s achievements have been overshadowed because of some dishonest businessmen,” she said.
In view of the plight of the people, particularly low-income group, Raushan sought government’s intervention in bringing dishonest businessmen to book.
“Bangladesh is facing shortage of food grains as Boro paddy on vast tracts of land has been damaged in Haor region due to flooding. Cashing in on this situation, a syndicate has made the rice market unstable,” she said.
Government statistics show that the price of course variety rice has increased by eight per cent last month while 47 per cent in the last one year.
Speaking on the proposed budget, Jatiya Party secretary general ABM Ruhul Amin Hawlader expressed concern over the price hike of rice and other essential items during Ramadan.
“Why did the price of essentials shoot up? Why is rice price up ahead of the next national polls? When will the prices of commodities come down? Speak up in parliament and let people know about the measures taken to check the price spiral,” he told the House.
The JP lawmaker said VAT burden on the people ahead of the next election will be suicidal as local and international quarters are hatching a conspiracy against the polls.
“The way the government is increasing the burden of VAT on the people is unexpected. People of the country are frustrated and speechless,” he added.
The JP secretary general also criticised commerce minister Tofail Ahmed for his failure to keep stable the price of rice and other essential commodities.
“Our commerce minister is a seasoned politician, but he has failed to arrest the price hike. The lowest price of per kilogram rice is now over Tk 50. How rice price has reached to such high level. It seems that government is indifferent to looking into the matter,” he added.
Hundreds of crore of taka is being laundered while looting is taking place at banks, but it seems that the government has failed to take any steps against such acts, he said.
JP lawmaker Sayed Abu Hossain said many people living in Dhaka and Chittagong have been marooned by rain water.
“The government is taking credit by saying country is on the highway of development. But I want to know why the government is failing to save people of Dhaka and Chittagong from waterlogging,” he said.
He also slammed the finance minister for imposing VAT on raw materials used in the newspaper industry.
Another JP lawmaker Mohammad Noman said people know very well what sort of progress the has made. “Little rain inundates Dhaka and Chittagong.”
He was critical over the proposal to increase excised duty on bank deposits.
“The finance minister often utters the word ‘rubbish’. He said Tk 4000 crore was nothing when the amount was looted from banks. But now he is saying Tk 1 lakh is enough to be levied excise duty,” Noman said.
The lawmaker also alleged that general people pay VAT, but the government does not get it due to corruption.
He also said the proposed budget will widen gap between the poor and the rich.
The treasury bench lawmakers lauded the proposed budget, saying that it will not only boost the economy but also take the country forward in line with the dreams of Bangabandhu.
Former commerce minister Faruk Khan slammed the BNP and its chairperson Khaleda Zia for taking stance against the proposed national budget.
“They should have spoken about the focal points of the budget but they have not done it. It is because they do not understand the budget,” he said.
Mentioning massive corruption during the BNP regime, he said, “Bangladesh was the champion in corruption for three consecutive years during the BNP regime.”
State Minister for Health and Family Welfare Jahid Malik, Deputy Minister for Environment and Forest Abdullah Al Islam Jacob, Farhad Hossain, Syeda Sayera Mohsin, Amatul Kibria Keya Chowdhury, Kamal Ahmed Majumder, Samila Akhter Tuhin, Yousuf Abdullah Harun, Khandaker Abdul Baten, Ali Azam, Kamrul Ashraf Khan, Hosne Ara Lutfa Daliya, Umme Razia Kajol and Jewel Areng, also spoke on the proposed budget.