Businesses yesterday demanded the National Board of Revenue officers stop harassing them in the name of value-added tax collection.
“Very often, we are informed from different trade bodies and business chambers that the field level officials have been harassing the businessmen in the name of VAT collection,” said Sheikh Fazle Fahim, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The harassment needs to stop as the prime minister has already announced zero tolerance against corruption, Fahim said while presenting the apex trade body’s post-budget proposals at a discussion held at the capital’s Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel.
The FBCCI organised the discussion, which was attended by businesspeople from across the country -- including leaders from district level chambers and trade bodies -- exporters, importers, assemblers and manufacturers and government high ups.
The demand comes as the business community fears a rise in harassment for implementation of the new VAT law.
In a written letter, the FBCCI chief demanded withdrawal of advance income tax and 15 percent tax on retained earnings for listed companies.
If necessary, the disputes, if any, would be resolved in consultation with the working committee, that was formed earlier comprising the officials from the FBCCI and NBR and headed by the finance minister himself.
Echoing the views of Fahim, Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, the immediate past president of the FBCCI, said, “We want a harassment-free business atmosphere.”
Mohiuddin said increasing the tax on trade licence fee to Tk 3,000 from existing Tk 500 will increase the cost of doing business and the new entrepreneurs will feel discouraged to invest in their start-ups.
He urged the government to release the cash incentive money without much hassle, as the financial support is meant to help businesses flourish.
A section of businesspeople along with some dishonest NBR officials abuse bonded warehouse facilities but the whole business community is blamed for it, Mohiuddin said. He suggested the government not increase source tax in the next budget.
The VAT and tax officials are inspecting the factories whenever they like and harassing the owners, especially those of small and medium units, said Rubana Huq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
She also urged the government to withdraw the proposed 10 percent tax on receipts of cash incentives. Syed Mahbubur Rahman, president of the Association of Bankers Bangladesh, urged the government to withdraw the tariff on the import of bank cards to facilitate a cashless society.
The government’s proposal to borrow more than Tk 47,363 crore from the banking sector may crowd out investment for private sector entrepreneurs, said Osama Taseer, president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, urged the government to make the Dhaka-Chittagong highway an eight-lane one for smooth plying of goods-laden trucks and passenger vehicles.
Nadia Binte Amin, president of the Women Entrepreneur Network for Development Association, demanded special allocation of plots for women entrepreneurs in the government’s special economic zones.
New multiple rates of VAT will create trouble for businesses, said Md Rezaul Karim Reznu, FBCCI vice-president. “Businesspeople are already afraid of the multiple rates of VAT,” he added.
Md Nizam Uddin Jitu, president of Bangladesh Mobile Phone Business Association, demanded reinstating the previous duty on import of smartphones at 30.75 percent as the government increased the rate to 57.31 percent.
Syed Almas Kabir, president of the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services, demanded keeping the e-commerce industry out of the purview of VAT to help the fledgling businesses stand on their own.
Siddiqur Rahman, another vice-president of the FBCCI, demanded harassment-free VAT payment.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said the abusers of the bonded warehouse facility should be nabbed. He also said the businesspeople should be relieved from harassment in the hands of VAT collectors.