Hinting at no major change in the upcoming national budget, Finance Minister AMA Muhith today said that the ongoing measures in the revenue collection will continue in the next fiscal.
"This is election year. No new initiative is possible to be taken in the new budget", he said while addressing the 39th consultative meeting of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) at Sonargaon Hotel in the city, jointly organised by NBR and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI).
In the meeting, the FBCCI demanded increasing the income tax waiver limit to 350,000 from the existing limit of Tk 250,000 and reducing the corporate tax by 2.5 percent. Corporate tax limit now exists from 25-35 percent for different categories.
With FBCCI President Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin in the chair, the function was also addressed by about 50 representatives from different trade bodies and business chambers across the country.
NBR Chairman Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Chairman Kazi Aminul Islam also spoke on the occasion.
The finance minister said the government will lay special emphasis on the agro-processing and SME sector.
He observed that agro processing sector has huge potential in our country as traditionally Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have been doing better in the value addition business.
"We have significantly done well in readymade garment sector where value addition was the main thing", he said adding similarly agro-processing has advanced a lot and there is scope to go further.
He also positively responded to the demands for reduction of taxes for e-Commerce sector, local bread and biscuit manufacturing industries, poultry sector, and import of stone and hard rock for road constructions.
Muhith said that the number of taxpayers have increased significantly in last one decade as now 30 lakh people pay income taxes while it was 7 lakh in 2009, 14 lakh in 2016.
He said the government has been trying to remove the fear of harassment in tax payment, which he claimed resulted in such increase in the number of taxpayers.
Responding to observation on poor road condition for which transport sector suffers a lot, he said the government has introduced a system in road construction that whenever a contractor gets a contract, it has to maintain the road for three years in the post-construction period.
NBR Chairman Mosharraf Hossain said the revenue board will work on enhancing the Tax-GDP ratio as still the ratio is below 8 percent.
FBCCI president Shafiul Islam said the present government should continue for the sake of continuation of the development as it happened in Singapore and Malaysia.
He said though power generation has increased following some measures of the government, but industrialisation is still being impeded by the shortage of power supply as supply was not increased with the rise of the demands in the economy.
He said the country urgently needs to overcome the crisis in the banking sector.
He demanded the discipline of the banking sector has to be ensured by strong monitoring of the central bank and sanctioning of bank loans on political consideration has to be stopped.
"Business community will never support any money launderers and will always demand punishment to those culprits," he said.
Representatives from association of real-estate, steel and re-rolling millers and contractors of government works expressed concerns over the recent rise in price of construction materials, specially road and cement.
The steel and re-rolling millers demanded reduction in import duty and withdrawal of VAT on the import of raw material saying that the price of rods has gone dup due to price up of raw materials in the international market.
Representatives of some trade bodies alleged that the NBR did not follow the suggestions of the consultative meeting.
Some businessmen alleged that banks are not disbursing money despite sanctioning of their loans.