Whitening black money unconstitutional, immoral, discriminatory, corruption-friendly;
Opposition role irresponsible; Openness demanded in defence expenses
Dhaka, June 8, 2013. Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) considers the proposed budgetary provision to legalize black money as unconstitutional, immoral, contradictory to the government’s election pledge, discriminatory and an example of institutionalization of corruption by policy capture.
In a statement Iftekhruzzaman, Executive Director of TIB said, “whitening of black money proposed in the national budget is against the spirit of article 20(2) of the Constitution. It is immoral as it rewards illegal and corrupt behavior and discourages honesty. It is a clear violation of the Government’s own electoral commitment. It also discriminates against honest customers of the real estate sector and would encourage people to take illegal path of earning income, Not only is the government pushing the real estate sector to be captured by corruption, but sending a message to the society that the government is the protector of corruption and illegality”.
He further said that available evidences including the Finance Minister’s own statement render any financial argument illogical and unacceptable for such a provision as no substantial revenue has been earned as a result of the provision made over the years.
“Politics may indeed be a game of compromise, as the Minister told the media, but if the core principles of honesty, constitutionality, equality of all and justice are compromised for politics, then politics will have nothing to do with public interest and democratic values”, he said.
TIB is also disappointed that the opposition leaders who have criticized the provision have done so clearly for political mileage as they have refrained from specifically committing what their position would be in this regard if they were voted to power.
Iftekharuzzaman further said, “the opposition has also behaved irresponsibly and immorally by absenting from the session on the budget day. They have indeed boycotted all previous budget sessions of the present parliament, and have once again taken the course of undermining their parliamentary responsibility and commitment to an extent that is equal to disrespecting people’s right and interest as voters”.
The Finance Minister rightfully called attention of the nation to this in his budget speech and demanded the culture of parliamentary boycott be stopped. It remains to be seen if his party will continue to hold the same position if and when they have to take opposition seats in the parliament, the statement said.
The highly ambitious budget may turn out to be a calculated game to win votes in an election year. Question may be raised whether the government has been motivated in drafting the budget by a possibility that the burden of unmet implementation will be shifted to the election-time government followed by the newly elected government. Whatever may be the election results, politically motivated response for implementation deficit may become readily available.
It is encouraging that the Minister re-stated the commitment to establish a corruption-free society. His emphasis on the need to be “especially careful that in the name of combating corruption, anyone`s fundamental rights are not infringed” cannot be underemphasized. However, since concern for fundamental rights of any accused person is universal and equally applicable for all forms of law enforcement and justice, we have reasons to be concerned that such specific emphasis with relation to corruption control may send a wrong signal and create the space for undermining justice for partisan or other consideration, the statement said.
Iftekharuzzaman further said, “we are also concerned that allocation for such important sector as education has received lower priority than defence. Question remains about justifications for such higher priority to the defence sector, particularly when there is no specific policy of national defence, and when openness in the use of defence budget is much lower than desired, which must be corrected to build the much-needed trust in the people”.