Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal laughed off a think-tank's strong plea for crosschecking the source of income of remitters who send over US$5,000 at a time, as a robust remittance inflow amid the global pandemic came under spotlight.
The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) smelt a rat behind the continued high growth in remittance inflow in this pandemic period when jobs and businesses in many of Bangladesh's top remittance-sourcing counties remain shut or disrupted.
"In the past, remittances were coming through both legal and other means. Where is CPD's objection on inflow of remittance legally now? What they want to see?" said Mr Kamal Wednesday.
He was replying newsmen's query after a virtual meeting of the cabinet committee on government purchase.
The minister made it clear that the government wants remittance should come through legal channel.
People who have money abroad-who work or do business-will send money home. "What's the point of CPD in raising objection!"
"If we bring money lawfully, it is good for the county I think," he said.
Remittance inflow saw a robust 36.1 per cent growth year on year in fiscal year (FY) 2020-21 to US$24.77 billion compared to $18.2 billion in FY 2019-20.
Such a big growth during the pandemic period made CPD sceptical about their sources and it at a programme Tuesday suggested a crosscheck.
Contacted Wednesday, CPD Research Director Khondaker Golam Moazzem told the FE the source of money coming as remittance needs to be scrutinised.
"We definitely encourage remittance inflow and payment of incentives," he said, but the continued higher growth during the long-lasting pandemic creates question whether those were earned legally or not.
Mr Moazzem noted that money market is under tremendous pressure with large volume of liquidity-"who knows whether high remittance inflow from questionable sources has contribution on it or not?"
Replying to another query whether incentives for small-sized remittance senders will be increased, as proposed by the central bank, the finance minister answered in the negative. "I think the 2.0 percent incentive is good enough."
Rather, the minister said he was thinking about expansion of incentives for other sectors.
The minister was scheduled to reply to newsmen on the day whether the money of pandemic-linked stimulus packages went to the share market and made bubble there or not.
Mr Kamal said no money went to the bourses from stimulus packages as some media outlets reported.
"Money from remittance and from undisclosed money which were legalised last fiscal year may have gone to the share bourses," he said.
This week the central bank asked the scheduled banks to let it know who got the loans from pandemic recovery stimulus packages. Some Tk 450 billion subsidised loans have so far been disbursed under the packages among the businesses. The government is paying half the interest while the borrowers will pay another half.
Relying to a query on the beginning of the new fiscal year with low export earnings and fall in remittance inflow, Mr Kamal said the remittance inflow in the last fiscal year was unusually well.
But this July the remittance inflow fell slightly, maybe, due to Eid or other reasons, he said.
He said due to the frequent lockdown production in factories is not as targeted, thus export fell.
"We will try to cover the losses in the coming days if everything goes normal. We will take steps to fill the gaps created," he said on a note of optimism.
On World Bank's proposal for local integration of Rohingya people and enhancing facilities for them Mr Kamal said as development partner the bank provides suggestion sometimes.
If any of them found suitable, those are accepted. On Rohingya issue the ministry concerned will take decision based on the suitability, he said
UNB adds: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday in principle approved a proposal to set up 30 oxygen plants at different hospitals.
Health Services Division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will procure and set up the oxygen plants with the financial support of the Asian Development Bank.
However, the cost and other details of the plan were not disclosed as the proposal needs to be approved further by the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase (CCPP).
"You will get detail on the proposal when it will come to CCPP for approval next week", said Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal while briefing reporters on the outcomes of the committee meeting.
Meanwhile, the CCPOP at a meeting on Wednesday approved 10 procurement proposals including import of urea construction of housing apartments for the government employees.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal presided over the meetings of the two committees held consecutively.
Four separate tender proposals of the Public Works Department (PWD) received nod of the committee to award contracts for construction of multistoried apartment complex at Mirpur Pikepara for the government employees.