NBR unlikely to allow law enforcers to conduct drive
The National Board of Revenue is unlikely to give law enforcement agencies the authority to conduct drives against VAT dodgers, NBR officials told The Daily Star yesterday.
They came up with this view following requests from the Rapid Action Battalion to the NBR for inclusion of the VAT Act 1991 in the schedule of the Mobile Court Act 2009 to allow Rab's executive magistrates to conduct drives against VAT evaders.
"This issue has not even been included in the board's agenda," NBR Chairman Md Nojibur Rahman told The Daily Star in response to a query.
The elite force sent a letter to the NBR chairman towards the end of October last year, requesting the revenue authority to take “necessary steps” for inclusion of VAT Act 1991 in the schedule of the mobile court law, which empowers executive magistrates to give verdicts for offences under 108 laws.
The letter, singed by Rab Director General Benazir Ahmed, reads there are allegations that some businesses do not properly deposit value-added tax (VAT) collected from customers with the state coffer.
The Daily Star has obtained a copy of the letter.
Following the Rab move, businesses expressed fears that allowing the elite force to run mobile courts for collecting VAT would have a negative impact on the country's trade and investment.
At a meeting with Finance Minister AMA Muhith early this month, M Anis Ud Dowla, former president of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said it would be very unfortunate if Rab is engaged in collecting VAT from businesses.
In its letter to the NBR, Rab said it is compulsory for 11 types of service providers and large and medium businesses to use electronic cash registers or point of sales to issue sales receipts.
But this is not properly followed in many cases, depriving the government of huge amounts of revenue, it says.
Rab said its mobile courts, headed by executive magistrates, have received appreciation from all quarters for drives against various offences, including food adulteration, as well as fake doctors and illegal blood banks.
As the VAT Act 1991 is not included in the schedule of the Mobile Court Law 2009, it is not possible for the mobile courts to carry out drives against VAT evaders.
“As a result, the tendency to evade VAT is rising day by day …,” it said.
Contacted, Commander Mufti Mahmud Khan, director of Rab's Legal and Media wing, said the reasons for giving Rab the responsibility were aptly mentioned in the letter.
“I have nothing more to say,” he told this correspondent yesterday.