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Commentary

Budget offers no protection for the poor

06 June 2021
Budget offers no protection for the poor


Editorial Desk :
Media reports have said the proposed budget has offered tax and VAT cut and  such other fiscal exemptions to big industries. But the budget has forgotten the new poor with suffering from income loss through the 16 months of the pandemic period. The proposed budget has earmarked Tk 107,610 crore allocation for various social protection schemes but the allocation has evidently cut outlays on livelihood programmes of the poor such as work for money, skills development and other rural employment programme compared to average allocations of previous years. The bigger part of the social safety net will go to meet other spendings not directly going to help the poor.
The budget has provided for two separate funds of Tk 12,300 crore to directly help the poor and low-paid informal sector workers and address Covid-19 health risks. It aims at helping affected day labourers, farmers, domestic workers and those imperilled by natural calamities. There is tall talk about reviving the economy and creating new jobs for the poor but a tangible plan is missing.
We would suggest major restructuring of the budget to help the vast majority of
people including the new poor who are struggling for a minimum livelihood without publicly asking for government help. Our country is not like the USA and other western countries where the government sends cheques at every home to help them live through the pandemic. We would suggest a significant reduction in house rent that benefits the rich in the cities, reduction of utility charges and other levies that the government may partly pay to make the life of the people easier.
The proposed budget has offered 20 years of tax exemption to large industries in automobile sector, 10 years tax exemption for home appliance and agro-processing industries and 10 years tax exemption in the light engineering sector. VAT and advance income tax at the import level has also been slashed. The poor are not important for the government, so it is not surprising that the poor left unattended.

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