Muhith through the eyes of NBR chiefs

Muhith describes himself as “ambitious” when it comes to drawing up the country’s spending plans, which often draw criticism. Nevertheless, his goal was to stimulate the economy with a big budget.

As the agency charged with collecting government revenue, the National Board of Revenue had to work in tandem with the Department of Finance to offset fiscal shortfalls resulting from the massive budgets.

As a result, two former NBR presidents, Nasir Uddin Ahmed and Ghulam Hussain, were lucky enough to see Muhith working up close.

Following the death of the former finance minister, who presented 12 national budgets, on Sunday, the two former NBR chiefs reflected on Muhith’s contributions to building Bangladesh’s macroeconomic framework, including raising tax revenues.

The late finance minister, Mr Saifur Rahman, also presented a total of 12 budgets, but Muhith presented the national budget for a record 10 times in a row, died early Saturday at the age of 88.

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Muhith worked for a number of development agencies for a long time after leaving the civil service in 1981. He joined the Awami League in 2001 and was appointed as a member of its advisory council in 2002. He was elected as an MP in 2009 for his constituency of origin in Sylhet.

After his election to parliament, he was inducted into Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s cabinet as finance minister. He had also served as Minister of Finance during the military regime of HM Ershad. He retired from politics in 2019 after a ten-year term as finance minister.

In its budget for the fiscal year 2009-10, it set a revenue target of Tk610 billion, which had grown exponentially to almost Tk2.21 trillion in its farewell budget for the fiscal year. 2018-19.

Nasir Uddin, who was in charge of the NBR when Muhith took over as finance minister, stressed the importance Muhith attached to raising revenue as well as the size of the budget.

“Even having been a government employee at one time, the way he has led the country towards development by increasing tax revenue and ensuring overall economic progress is, in a word, impeccable,” Nasir said.

“I had the privilege of working closely with him for almost four years. He was so diligent, hardworking, honest and tried to gain a deep understanding of what was needed to perform his duties.

Muhith had a “comprehensive vision” for Bangladesh, according to Nasir. “The tremendous economic progress, including development, GDP and export growth that we see today was only possible because of him.”

“He understood that the prerequisite for economic development is income growth. From the beginning, he had explored ways to increase income. The enormity of his plans was such that it could take a long time to put The driving force behind his long-term plans was to build the ‘Golden Bangladesh’ envisioned by Bangabandhu.”

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The former NBR chairman believes Bangladesh’s current economy is the culmination of Muhith’s visionary thinking. “I think when it comes to the current economy of Bangladesh, its chief architect is Muhith.”

Regarding Muhith’s work ethic as finance minister, Nasir said, “There were times when he would work until noon and he would call me in case he needed anything. surprised.”

“He was always informal and immersed in his work. We found him an extraordinary personality. I felt that this mild-mannered and jovial man was endowed with the greatest human qualities.

“To understand his qualities, just think about the state of our budgets before he came and see where he took them.”

Ghulam Hussain, the second chairman of the NBR during Muhith’s tenure, also praised the former minister. “I have never seen such a patriotic, selfless and honest person in my life.”

“The NBR is the country’s main source of income. It is a difficult task to lead and manage this organization. He has never committed any wrongdoing in this organization.

“The NBR is involved in some of the most influential groups in the country, particularly in business and finance. So it’s very difficult to make big decisions.”

“But if he (Muhith) was told something should be done [to increase revenue]he would grasp the problem very quickly and make bold decisions.”

Hussain said he would get Muhith’s support if he found himself at odds with various business groups while trying to collect revenue.

“You have to go to great lengths to work in this organization. Many different situations arise. It is difficult to work without the support of the minister. “

Recounting such an incident, Hussain said, “I won’t name the sector, but at the time it was plagued by tax evasion. We learned that they didn’t even pay 25% tax. Our commissioner investigated at the plant level and was able to prove that the sector was committing massive tax evasion.

“Then when we went to work, the pressure was so great that an NBR president like me felt like nothing. If he [Muhith] had not been part of the effort to expose the union, it would not have been possible for the NBR to do so.”

Hussain also recalled Muhith’s contributions to the creation of new tax sectors to increase tax revenue.

“During my tenure, two new taxes were imposed on tobacco due to its environmental and health implications. One of them was the 1% environmental tax. Another is the cost of treating various diseases due to tobacco industry, it would not have been possible without his support.

“He never compromised when it came to collecting revenue and had no personal relationship with anyone involved in the process.”

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