Editors of The Daily Star and the Prothom Alo, along with the owning companies of the national dailies and their printer, were recognised as the top taxpayers in the journalist and media categories for the fourth straight year yesterday.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) handed out the accolades to 141 highest taxpaying individuals and companies at a ceremony in the Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden in the capital.
The Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam and Prothom Alo Editor Matiur Rahman received the awards in the journalist category from Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal.
The Daily Star’s parent company Mediaworld Ltd, Prothom Alo owner Mediastar Ltd and the printer of the dailies Transcraft Ltd also received the recognition.
The three companies are sister concerns of Transcom Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Bangladesh.
Latifur Rahman is the chairman and managing director of Transcraft.
Rokia Afzal Rahman, chairperson of Mediaworld Ltd, received the award for the company, while Matiur Rahman received it on behalf of Mediastar Ltd.
Shahnaz Rahman, a director of Transcom Group and chairperson of Reliance Insurance Limited, was recognised as the highest taxpayer among women in Dhaka city.
Md Kamrul Hassan, executive director for finance at Transcom Group, received the award on behalf of Shahnaz Rahman and Transcraft Ltd.
Of the 141 awardees, 74 are individuals, 57 companies, and 10 organisations.
Speaking at the ceremony, the finance minister said: “You [top taxpayers] are good people. The economy has advanced because of your contribution.”
He said there were four crore people in the country who fall under the middle-income category, but many of them did not pay their taxes for various reasons, including a lack of courtesy from taxmen and encouragement from tax lawyers, and a lack of willingness to pay taxes.
Kamal said the NBR would take action if any taxpayer was harassed and dishonoured at the tax office.
Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the finance ministry, said “Among those getting recognised, all are not our supporters. I see there are some…who fall into the category of our critics.”
Md Mashiur Rahman, economic affairs adviser to the prime minister, lauded the top taxpayers and said the recognition inspired people to do good.
NBR Chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said, “We are present here today to honour those who do the job of blood circulation for the development of the country. This is a matter of great pride.”
Other top taxpayers in the journalist category include MA Malek, editor of the Dainik Azadi in Chattogram, Shykh Seraj, director and head of news of Channel i, and Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, editor-in-chief and CEO of Ekushey Television.
Both editors of The Daily Star and the Prothom Alo, and the owning firms of the two dailies and their printer, started receiving the honour in their respective categories in 2015-16, when the NBR expanded the list of the awardees to include various professions and areas.
Previously, it handed out tax cards in only two categories -- individuals and companies -- with 10 tax cards for each group.
The tax collector began recognising the top taxpayers with cards and crests in 2010-11 to improve tax compliance, and reduce tax evasion and avoidance in a country where just 1.33 percent of the population submitted income tax returns in the last fiscal year.
At the event, the NBR also honoured the highest and longest time taxpayers in Dhaka city and districts under the Dhaka division.
This year, the NBR named 374 highest taxpayers from districts and city corporations, and recognised 147 longest time taxpayers for 2018-19.