Budget 2014-15: TIB against provision of whitening black money;
Calls for greater openness and public debate on allocations, particularly on defence
Dhaka, May 27, 2014. Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has reiterated its longstanding concern over the budgetary provision to legalize black money and called upon the government to refrain from this unconstitutional, unethical and discriminatory provision. TIB has also called for greater openness, transparency, public debate and scrutiny of all budgetary allocations including defence.
Stop giving legality to black money
In a statement issued today executive director of TIB, Iftekhruzzaman said, “we are encouraged that the government is reportedly willing to discontinue the provision for whitening black money in national budget 2014-15. We call upon the government to demonstrate the capacity to remain firm, and instead of yielding to any unholy pressures of vested quarters, refrain from making this provision, which is contradictory to article 20(2) of the Constitution. This unethical provision practically rewards corrupt practices and discourages honesty. It also sends a wrong message that the government acts as protector and promoter of corruption and illegality”.
“In addition to high moral cost, credible evidence from experience over the years confirms that this bad practice does not benefit the economy, not even in terms of revenue collection in any substantial term. On the other hand it aggravates our growing concern of policy capture by those who benefit from corruption”, he said.
It is also a clearly contradictory to the Government’s own commitment to combat corruption as laid down in the Perspective Plan, Vision 2021 and 6th Five Year Plan, the statement said.
More budget transparency, especially in defence spending
TIB demanded greater openness, transparency and accountability to tax payers and people at large, for which more specific budgetary data should be made public, especially on allocation for defence. Openness in defence expenditure is indispensable not only because it claims one of the highest allocations of the annual national budget, but also for the credibility of the defence sector itself.
Iftekharuzzaman said, “People have the right to know more specific information than practiced because defence involves public money in public interest. Instead of treating defence as an untouchable sector this highly important area of national interest must be subjected to open debate so that the people have greater trust in the way public money is allocated and used. This will in turn enhance public support to defence spending”.
Public scrutiny of budgetary expenses
For transparency and accountability in public finance in general, the implementation process of budget including expenses under Annual Development Plan should be subjected to regular public scrutiny on a quarterly basis. To facilitate this itemized updated statement of expenditures must be disclosed through website and other easily accessible means, the statement added.