Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith on Friday admitted that the revenue collection target in the proposed budget for the fiscal year of 2015-2016 is high, but it is achievable.
Responding to questions from reporters at a post-budget press conference at Osmani Memorial Hall in the capital, Muhith said that the high target was set to break the 6 per cent "GDP barrier".
The Gross Domestic Product growth has been hovering at 6 per cent for the last several fiscal years.
While unveiling budget in the Jatiya Sangsad (Parliament) on Thursday, the Finance Minister said that an amount of Tk 176,370-crore revenue would be collected by the National Board of Revenue (NBR) in FY 2015-16.
"The NBR has been strengthened to work towards achieving the target," he told the press conference.
"We have enough capacity to collect Tk 200,000crore revenue in FY 2015-2016," claimed Md. Nojibur Rahman, chairman of NBR.
Muhith strongly defended the budget outlay for the forthcoming FY, saying that he drew a clear implementation strategy in his budget speech to achieve the fiscal targets.
"I have given clear directions about the implementation in various parts of my budget speech. But, I don't know why some people are skeptical about the matter," the Finance Minister said while responding to questions from journalists.
At the two-hour crowded press conference from 4 pm to 6 pm, the minister was candid in taking questions and responding to those, aided by some of his senior cabinet colleagues and high officials of the Ministry of Finance.
The minister said that there is specific law to deal with the issue of whitening of black money and therefore the budget speech did not mention it.
"Per capita income and purchasing capacity have increased and economy is in a stable position. Bangladesh is in journey to a middle- income country by 2021", he added.
"If we have to develop really, if we have to sustain a 7 per cent GDP growth, then we have to increase our revenues. I have taken up that challenge in my budget and I hope I will be successful," Muhith said.
The Finance Minister said the "nation is prepared to help us collect revenues worth Tk 2.08 trillion". "The people are prepared to pay and the NBR is prepared to collect," he insisted.
"We are going to find new taxpayers, we are planning to increase our tax base and we will get people to pay up. The new taxpayers will bring us revenues," Muhith said, insisting that it will all need a big push.
"The time for the big push to augment revenues has come." Muhith, however, admitted that so far the tax base has not expanded fast enough.
"When I took charge as finance minister after the Awami League came to power in January 2009, there were 700,000 taxpayers. Now the number has risen to 1.7 million."
Muhith admitted his revenue targets were "very high" but pointed to a 23 per cent revenue growth in a financial year not so long ago.
"Keeping that in mind, the government and the NBR has decided to make a big effort," Muhith said, adding that "big success stories call for big efforts".
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu and Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal flanked Muhith on the stage during the press conference.
Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman, NBR Chairman Md Nojibur Rahman and other senior officials were also present.