Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has questioned subsidies to support several sectors while defending her government’s decision to raise fuel prices.
“How much can the government subsidise?” she said at a virtual press conference on Wednesday, noting that it pays Tk 530 billion to support fuel, electricity, fertiliser and other sectors, reports bdnews24.com.
A reporter asked whether the government has any plan to reduce the price of diesel. Hasina said Bangladesh purchases diesel from abroad, and so the price should be increased in the domestic market when global prices spike. “But the government is still subsidising many sectors.”
Highlighting a Tk 230 billion worth of subsidies to the fuel sector, she said: "We can’t use up all the money in the national budget to pay subsidies. That will lead to a halt on all developmental projects.”
"We are always aware of our responsibility towards the people. There is no one we haven’t helped out with cash amid the coronavirus pandemic. We have distributed cash many times.”
“What is our way? How much is our earning? What resources do we have? Go to developed countries and you’ll find that there is a shortage of food. In London, you’ll see that the supermarkets are empty. There is no shortage of food in our country.”
Pointing out the trend of tax evasion, she said that everyone is trying to avoid paying taxes. “So, where will the money come from? Do we have to go bankrupt?”
The government is importing liquefied natural gas or LNG to tackle a gas crisis and is paying huge subsidies there as well, Hasina said.
"We are keeping an eye on people so that they do not suffer and face a crisis of food."
The prime minister joined the press conference from her Ganabhaban residence to share her experiences during a two-week official visit to the United Kingdom and France.