Business leaders made on Tuesday a set of fiscal proposals including reduction in corporate tax, raising tax-free income ceiling and keeping revenue mobilisation growth within 20 per cent.
In pre-budget discussion meetings with the National Board of Revenue (NBR), office-bearers of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI) also recommended the revenue board allow tax-free investments in research and development (R&D).
At the same time, they suggested widening the tax net through identifying the errant but capable business entities to reduce the burden on the taxpayers.
Placing its budget proposals for the fiscal year 2019-20 at the NBR conference room, DCCI president Osama Taseer called for an easy and business-friendly taxation system, automation of the tax system and investment-friendly environment to attain 8.5 per cent economic growth.
He proposed 25 per cent corporate tax for non-listed companies instead of the existing 35 per cent and 15 per cent corporate tax for listed companies, which is now 25 per cent.
The DCCI president also suggested raising the tax-free income limit for individuals from existing Tk 250,000 to Tk 300,000.
Mr Taseer proposed VAT-(value-added tax) free annual turnover of Tk 5.0 million and requested to keep the provision of package VAT system in the upcoming budget.
Regarding the VAT rate, he also proposed different slabs of VAT like 5 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 10 per cent instead of proposed uniform rate of 15 per cent.
The DCCI boss proposed 5 per cent source tax on the interest rate of current account which is now 10 to 15 per cent and also recommended withdrawal of stamp duty on mutual funds.
BCI president Anwar-ul Alam Chowdhury in another meeting with NBR officials on the day said the government needs to focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and youth entrepreneurs to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs) and vision 2041.
For promoting SMEs and youth entrepreneurs, he suggested allocating land for them in special economic zones (SEZs) and Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) areas along with creation of a special fund to finance their initiatives.
The BCI president recommended introducing of special tax facility for SMEs and youth entrepreneurs instead of five-year tax holiday.
Mr Chowdhury, also chairman of Evince Group, proposed tax rebate for the business entities which will employ 5.0 per cent staff from physically challenged and third gender communities.
He said the revenue mobilisation target was enhanced by around 33 per cent from the revised budget in FY 2018-2019 even though the revenue board managed around 17 per cent revenue collection growth over the last few fiscals.
"It is not realistic and it will have a negative impact on the productive sector. We proposed the growth limit should be kept within 20 per cent," the BCI president said.
Terming corporate tax rate very low here, NBR Chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the government reduced corporate tax rate in the last budget and it will be lowered gradually in future.
He said the investment-GDP ratio is increasing gradually but the tax-GDP ratio is not increasing as the number of new taxpayers is not rising.
"We're conducting a survey to this end. I hope we'll get the benefit of it," he said.
To attain the increased revenue target of the government, he said NBR is planning to open its outlets in all upazilas of the country to widen its tax net.
Seeking cooperation from the trade bodies, the NBR chairman said they will implement the VAT and Supplementary Duty Act 2012 from the upcoming fiscal year (FY'20).
"We did not implement it because of the complexities arisen over uniform VAT structure. We changed it and there will be several VAT rates in the act," he added.
He said NBR is working hard to prepare a business-and investment-friendly budget to promote industrialisation and economic development in the country.
Senior NBR officials as well as DCCI and BCI executive members were also present in the pre-budget meetings.
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