12:00 AM, January 26, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:24 AM, January 26, 2018

NBR seeks end to tax benefit culture

NBR Chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan speaks at a press conference at his office in Dhaka yesterday. Photo: Star

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) plans to come out of the culture of granting tax benefits in a bid to boost collection, said its Chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan yesterday.

“There are tax and duty breaks and rebates in various areas. But these benefits will be extended only if necessary,” he said at a press meet at the NBR headquarters.

Bhuiyan said there is clearance from the higher authority on getting out of the culture of granting tax waivers.

He said the NBR would remain unbiased in granting tax benefits. “No discrimination will be tolerated,” he said at the event organised on the eve of International Customs Day 2018.

The day is being observed in 182 countries, including Bangladesh. This year's theme is: A Secure Business Environment for Economic Development.

The government has unveiled a commemorative envelope and postal ticket while the NBR plans to hold a rally and seminar to showcase the steps it has taken to facilitate cross-border trade.

Bhuiyan said the NBR has taken various steps to modernise customs and automate its administration. Container scanners and archways have been set up at all customs houses at large ports.

It has also taken initiatives to open a “national single window” so that trade-related documents can be processed faster.

In addition, the customs administration is working to provide services quickly to compliant businesses by giving them the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status, according to the NBR.

“This will reduce hassle of business and cut cost. The aim of these initiatives is to ensure free and secure trade,” Bhuiyan said.

To curb trade-based money laundering and illegal fund transfers, the NBR is also going to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU).

The BFIU is the central agency responsible for analysing suspicious transactions and information related to money laundering and terrorists financing.

Bhuiyan said the agreement would facilitate exchange of information related to money laundering. “If necessary, we will hire consultants or contact other agencies through the BFIU to find ways to bring back the money.”

Moinul Khan, director-general of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate, said the MoU would be signed to set a protocol for exchange of information. “Our investigation will be more evidence-based,” he said.

Replying to a question, Bhuiyan also talked about revenue collection and plans to achieve a revenue collection target of Tk 248,190 crore for fiscal 2017-18.

Total revenue collection rose 15.38 percent year-on-year to Tk 92,532 crore in the July-December period of the fiscal year, according to the NBR. The receipt is Tk 10,000 crore less than the target for the period, he said.

He said the tax authority would take steps to expedite settlement of cases pending at courts and ask other state agencies to clear tax arrears.

The NBR said state-run Petrobangla has tax arrears amounting to Tk 22,000 crore, Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation Tk 2,300 crore, the Department of Immigration and Passports Tk 550 crore and the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission about Tk 500 crore.

Besides, it expects to collect some tax following the settlement of cases with mobile phone operators. The NBR expects to get about Tk 1,000 crore from the spectrum auction for 4G licences.

“We will also work to realise the actual amount of tax from taxpayers as per rule,” he said.