It is a disturbing fact that due to tax evasion by foreigners working in Bangladesh, our government is being deprived of USD 1.35 billion in revenue every year. A report by Transparency International reveals that about 1.6 lakh foreign nationals entered Bangladesh on tourist visas and then became gainfully employed in various sectors such as garment and textile mills, real estate, power plants, multinational companies, telecom companies, hospitals, hotels and restaurants. While it is true that most of these foreign nationals get jobs because of their strong communication and management skills which are in high demand in these sectors, we do not understand why they should not go through legal channels of employment. More importantly, how have such irregularities gone on without being detected by the authorities?
The study has found that government organisations that are supposed to be ensuring that the laws and regulations are followed have failed to do so. This has resulted in continuous tax evasion with salaries of legal foreign workers shown as less in the official documents than what is actually paid. Moreover, one third of the salary of foreign nationals working legally are paid into bank accounts with the rest being given in cash. If TIB could find out such details of these irregularities, why couldn’t government officials do the same and take necessary action?
We urge the government to pay heed to the recommendations given by TIB, such as initiating a one stop service system to provide the necessary services related to recruitment and stay of foreign nationals and getting the necessary information regarding foreign workers in various offices and factories for their own records. This will ensure due process of recruitment by employers and also reduce the possibility of tax evasion which deprives the government of a huge amount of revenue.