Kamal lets rip at CPD for questioning GDP figure

Kamal lets rip at CPD for questioning GDP figure
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal yesterday ripped in to the observations of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) about the country's financial growth for the just-concluded fiscal year.

"The CPD guesstimates," he said, at a virtual meeting with income tax officials.

On Sunday, the CPD raised questions over the monetary growth figure of 5.24 % estimated by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) for fiscal 2019-20.

The clear repercussions of the pandemic on the economy were not adequately reflected in the provisional GDP growth estimate released by the statistical agency the other day, the think-tank said in its review.

Economic growth figures are being used as a tool to get leverage in politics, said CPD Executive Director Fahmida Khatun at a virtual press briefing on Sunday.

But Kamal said: "We did not say that people have achieved 8.2 % GDP growth; we said that we achieved 5.2 % growth predicated on data, not predicated on assumption."

"CPD could have raised questions had we said that we achieved 8.2 % growth rate. Depends upon believes the figures we develop. CPD might not believe the figures," he added.

The BBS estimate beat forecasts by the Washington-based multilateral lenders World Bank and International Monetary Fund that the economy would grow between 1.6 % and 3.8 per cent in fiscal 2019-20 for the pandemic-whiplash.

The Asian Development Bank said the Bangladesh economy would expand at 4.5 per cent while the CPD earlier projected that the GDP growth will be no more than 2.5 %.

"You can realise whether the economy keeps growing or not merely by looking at rivers, canals, roads, industries and the rural economy. Its not necessary mathematics for this," Kamal said.

The economic figures are given based on a couple of things: one can be an assumption and the other is based on data. The BBS presents figures on various monetary sectors predicated on data, Kamal said. Whenever a budget is just about, CPD makes observations and this has been going on for ten years.

"We are the raw materials for the CPD. CPD is engaged in commerce predicated on the data we offer. It is their business in fact it is a fairly easy business. However, if we said something, it ended up being true in the end."

The finance minister alleged that CPD will not see power plants, mega projects and earnings generation.

The revenue generated in the last fiscal year almost exactly like in the last year, Kamal said. 

"Fiscal 2018-19 was normal. But we faced huge challenges last fiscal year. However the revenue generation fell short by only Tk 5,000 crore from what we achieved in fiscal 2018-19. This shows just how much GDP growth the united states posted."

Revenue collection in fiscal 2019-20 dropped 2.26 % to Tk 218,406 crore because of the two-and-half-month-long countrywide general shutdown. This is the first-ever negative growth in Bangladesh's history.

At the meeting, Kamal made a decision to sit with tax officials every quarter to take the stock of collections.

The meeting would see whether revenue generation is on the right track. If any issue is noticed and it would appear that a task needs to be done, the issues will be resolved immediately, he said.

The tax administration has undertaken a raft of measures to accelerate earnings generation, said NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem.

"NBR is focusing on automation to avoid tax dodging. We may not get results from the automation overnight, but we are certain to get positive results."

On 25 August, NBR will roll out the much-talked electronic fiscal devices (EFDs) within its effort to curb evasion of value-added tax paid by customers while purchasing goods and services.

The earnings collector aims to set up 100 EFDs on a pilot basis in the beginning at businesses in Dhaka and Chattogram.

Various monetary indicators in July signalled that the earnings collection target set for the existing fiscal year will be achieved, Kamal said.

NBR collected Tk 12,334 crore in July against the target of Tk 19,378 crore.

Income tax earned Tk 3,735 crore, practically half of the Tk 7,732-crore target set for the first month of the fiscal year.

Receipts from tax were the only positive part of the last fiscal year: it was up 0.14 % at Tk 73,004 crore. 

NBR would appoint officials to intensify revenue generation, said Muneem, adding a project has been initiated to set up income tax offices in all upazilas and growth centres.

There are in least 4 crore persons in the united states who could pay taxes, according to NBR's estimates. It has about 40 lakh registered taxpayers but 22 lakh submitted returns in fiscal 2018-19.

"The efforts to bring all of those other people under the tax network would continue," Muneem said.
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