The National Board of Revenue is yet to complete its preparations to enforce the use of automated sales recording machines at the retail level, in yet another hold-up to the government's plans to boost revenue collections.
With a view to curbing the evasion of the biggest source of revenue, the value-added tax, the NBR in August asked all types of businesses -- including hotels, restaurants and supermarkets -- to start using the Electronic Fiscal Device (EFD) from November 1 to record sales.
But the revenue administration is yet to list the firms that will supply the EFDs in line with its specifications.
“It is highly likely that we have to extend the deadline,” said Syed Mushfequr Rahman, deputy project director of the NBR's VAT Online Project, which included overseeing the establishment of an EFD management system (EFDMS) at the NBR.
The use of the EFDs was made mandatory in the backdrop of non-compliance of many businesses with the NBR's 2008 order for using conventional Electronic Cash Registers (ECR) to record sales to combat VAT evasion, the prevalence of which is believed to be high.
Revenue officials found that one of the major shortcomings was that the NBR had no server connected to the ECRs at the retail level to ensure that sales receipts were issued through the devices and records were not erased. This prompted the NBR to come up with EFDs and Electronic Fiscal Printers (EFPs), with which the scope to evade VAT paid by customers will be less.
The EFDs and EFPs would be connected to a central server at the NBR, which would generate real time data of sales at shops.
Customers would be able to know if the VAT they paid went to the state coffer: they will receive a code generated by the NBR's central server, according to officials. Last year, the NBR identified 8,007 entities eligible for the electronic sales devices.
Asked whether the NBR is taking a go-slow stance regarding the enforcement of the EFD use, Md Rezaul Hasan, NBR member of VAT policy, answered in the negative.
The specification for EFDs has been finalised, and a tender has been floated calling for firms to apply for getting listed as an EFD supplier, Rahman said.
“The listing of firms is under process. It is the back-end system that is yet to be established,” he added.
The list of the EFD suppliers will be finalised by November, according to Kazi Mostafizur Rahman, commissioner of VAT Commissionerate Dhaka South.
“Until then, we will ask businesses to continue to use the ECRs,” he added.
A senior official of VAT Commissionerate Dhaka West said the field office has asked businesses to use the ECRs and points of sale until the use of EFDs started and the EFDMS was established at the NBR.