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Budget 2010: No relief for middle class

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Budget 2010: No relief for middle class..

The traffic jam was terrible. Abidur Rahim thought the budget speech would be over by the time he reached home.
He sped up his bike as Mirpur Road was a bit free after passing Agargaon intersection. Luckily, when he reached home the minister was still on TV.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday not only proposed the biggest budget ever of Tk 132,170 crore but also brought a change in presentation. For the first time PowerPoint was used during a budget speech.
Abidur, a private firm employee and breadwinner in a four-member family, was following the budget speech for the last two years.
"Environment is an extremely important issue of concern for the existence of country's large population," the minister said. Abidur appreciated it.
The minister kept on saying many good initiatives for the disabled, acid survivors, widow and old citizens of the country and Abidur's appreciation followed too.
Shahana, his wife, joined him watching the budget speech. She asked whether he knew prices of which commodities were going up.
"Not yet," Abidur made a brief reply and paid his attention to the TV.
The minister proposed zero tariffs on import of rice, wheat, onion, pulse and edible oil, seeds, fertiliser, medicine and cotton.
That means no indication of increasing price of these items, Shahana said.
"Fifteen percent VAT on import of CBU/diesel/petrol/ CNG buses having 40 seats or more," the speech continued.
"If they increase price of big buses, the road will be full of small busses and the traffic jam is going to be worse," Abidur told his wife as he heard experts' comments on talk shows several times.
Last year the budget did not fulfill his expectations when an elected government rolled out country's annual financial plan after a two-year break. Like previous years Abidur was keen to know what the democratic government would do for the millions of people in mid-income brackets.
"With a view to encouraging investors to build a heavy…," the power snapped at this point.
Abidur bought a small IPS a few months ago. But it does not support the television.
He found two missed calls at his cellphone when he came out from the washroom after having a shower.
Babar, one of his friends, called him.
"How do you like the first ever digital budget?" he asked Babar calling him back.
"Abid, do you know the price of coconut oil, fruits jam and jelly, juice, medicine, paints, cosmetics, soap, match, mosquito coil, battery, sandal and shoe and electric fan might go up? Babar asked.
"I don't know. The electricity snapped," Abid said.
"Don't worry. The load-shedding is to go within two years, the minister said."
Abid asked his friend, "How much is the tax rate on coconut oil and other goods?" He made this particular question as price hike worried him more than load-shedding. Promise of uninterrupted electricity after two years did not impress him much.
"It is not clear yet. But those are coming under compulsory VAT registration. So surely the price will go up," Babar replied.
He also said the price of building construction materials like tiles and mosaic would go up soon. Besides, prices of ready-made apartments would also up as new tax is going to be imposed on real estate business.
Shahana came back with two cups of tea.
The most important thing is price of sugar would go up as the government is going to impose duty on raw sugar. Prices of cigarettes, chocolate milk and chewing tobacco will also increase.
"Okay, no problem. I quit cigarette earlier. Now we will cut sugar from our tea to cut the extra expenditure," he said.
The two friends agreed that the budget has a number of positive sides as the finance minister is trying to expand the tax net. All of them are needed to net in more funds to fuel his big budget.
But one crucial area remained neglected in the budget speech -- corruption. The minister said nothing to check corruption.
Hanging the phone up, Abid thought he would better read tomorrow's newspapers to have a clear conception of what this budget might mean to people like him.

Source: The Daily Star
Date: 11/06/2010


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