The National Board of Revenue (NBR) is exploring the possibilities of forming a separate revenue armed force for facing the threats and attacks in the process of revenue collection.
The proposal came amid reports that the revenue officials had faced attacks by miscreants several times while discharging their duties.
NBR arranged a partnership dialogue on its premises on Tuesday with the law-enforcing agencies and other stakeholders to discuss the issue.
State Minister for Finance and Planning M A Mannan attended the dialogue as the chief guest. Senior Secretary of Internal Resources Division (IRD) and NBR Chairman Md Nojibur Rahman chaired the meeting.
Mr Mannan said the government can consider the NBR's proposal on forming a separate revenue force.
He suggested the revenue board to provide services in the 'least painful' way, so that innocent people do not suffer.
He said Bangladesh has graduated from its position and become a middle-income country, but official declaration in this regard yet to come.
"A team of the United Nations arrived Bangladesh recently to review the country's status as a middle-income one," he added.
The NBR chairman said the field-level tax officials face various types of security threats at the time of discharging their duties.
"We need an institutional security force. Currently, the revenue officials are getting support of the law-enforcing agencies on temporary basis," he added.
Director General of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) Dr Moinul Khan, in his presentation in the meeting, made a set of proposals for ensuring security of the revenue officials.
His proposals include strengthening the existing capacity, boosting partnership efforts, supplying firearms to the revenue officials, obtaining support of the armed forces, and forming a dedicated force for ensuring the revenue officials' security.
The stakeholders in the partnership dialogue, however, expressed their scepticism over the proposal of forming a separate armed revenue force.
Representatives from Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence (BFSCD), Bangladesh Coast Guard, Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB), Bangladesh Ansar and VDP, and the Dhaka divisional commissioner gave their opinions on forming the separate revenue force.
There were differences in opinions over formation of a composite force for NBR with the participation of personnel from various organisations like police, fire service, Ansar, BGB and coast guard etc.
Additional Inspector General of Police Mokhlesur Rahman said it is better not to form any composite force.
Police can provide support to NBR, but discipline, training and other relevant issues should be dealt by police force as the supervising authority, he added.
BFSCD Director General Ali Ahmed, however, expressed his different opinion and preferred a composite force for NBR.
"The proposed revenue force can be formed comprising officials of BFSCD, magistrates and other law-enforcing personnel. Police can provide security," he opined.
Dhaka Divisional Commissioner Bazlul Karim Chowdhury said the reasons behind attacks on the taxmen should be indentified to punish the culprits.
The existing strategies can be standardised to ensure security of the revenue officials, he also said.
"The government should think deeply before forming a revenue force. There is no such force in India despite its large revenue department," he added.
Director General of Department of Narcotics Control Mohammad Jamal Uddin Ahmed said the issue of forming a separate revenue force needs further review.
"Such a force can be formed with the participation of other relevant agencies," he opined.
The BGB representative said police can provide security support to the revenue board as 'NBR police'.
It is time-consuming to form a new force for the revenue board, he noted.
Representative from Ansar and VDP Dilip Kumar Biswas said the existing manpower inadequacy in Ansar should be addressed first to extend its support to NBR.
"Formation of a composite force can be the best way. But it is critical to maintain force command and control without certain training," he added.
The Coast Guard representative said punitive measures should be taken on the basis of incidents or attacks on the revenue officials.
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