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Govt to bring uniformity in VAT rates in some sectors

Says NBR chief, prefers multiple VAT rates for businesses

FE Report | March 30, 2018 00:00:00

The government would bring uniformity in Value Added Tax (VAT) rates in some sectors in the upcoming budget for the fiscal year 2018-19, said the revenue board chief on Thursday.

"We would not go beyond the VAT law-1991, but bring uniformity in VAT rates in some sectors," said Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Senior Secretary of the Internal Resources Division (IRD) and Chairman of National Board of Revenue (NBR).

While speaking as the chief guest at an institutional dialogue organized by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) on its premises, he also preferred multiple VAT rates to uniform one for all businesses.

The uniform VAT rate was one of the major reasons for deferment of the new VAT law by two years until 2019.

Following an allegation made by the apex chamber over enforcement of new VAT law in the form of draft VAT rule-1991, the NBR chairman said the revenue board has amended the VAT rule to continue automation under the VAT Online Project (VOP), not to impose the provisions of the new law.

"We have received approval from the finance minister for the draft VAT rule to proceed further and discuss the issue with the business community," he added.

Business leaders from various sectors alleged that the taxmen were harassing them and demanded the authority should not impose heavy tax burden on compliant taxpayers.

Responding to the demand, the NBR chairman said the taxmen will not harass the businesses for achieving the revenue collection target.

"We have to achieve 45 per cent growth in revenue collection in the current FY compared to that of the previous year to meet an aggregate target of Tk 2.48 trillion," he said.

However, the NBR will step up efforts to check tax evasion and bring more people under the tax net.

Addressing the dialogue, FBCCI president Md Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said most of the proposals put forward by the consultative committee for FBCCI and NBR are usually not reflected in the national budget.

He said the 38th meeting of the consultative committee is scheduled to be held on April 12, 2018.

Last year several declarations were made regarding the budget including cut in corporate tax rate and adjustment to oil price, but those were not reflected in the budget, he added.

Responding to the allegation, the NBR chairman assured that it would not happen this year as the budget would be prepared in a 'business-friendly manner'.

He said the NBR will devise measures to thwart misdeclaration, under-invoicing, over-invoicing and abuse of bonded warehouse facility.

"We are also discussing with the port authority to expedite release of goods," he said.

He, however, alleged that the role of some clearing and forwarding agents at the port caused an increase in port expenditure of the businesses.

The FBCCI president made a number of proposals for consideration of NBR including waiver of Advance Income Tax (AIT) at import stage, follow joint committee decision on Gross Profit (GP) determination, scrap the provision of reopening income tax files, ensure tax refund, and withdraw the provision of multilayer taxation.

He also proposed forming a high-powered committee comprising representatives from FBCCI, tariff commission and customs valuation commissinarate to check under-invoicing and misdeclaration.

On VAT related measures, he proposed carrying out a regulatory impact assessment on the new VAT and Supplementary Duty Act-2012. The new law is scheduled to come into force from 2019 by replacing the existing VAT law-1991.

The apex chamber president said the NBR held a single meeting in the last nine months to discuss the draft VAT rule-1991.

He also proposed forming another committee for finalizing VAT online registration rules.

Mr Mohiuddin sought withdrawal of VAT for ready-made garment industries' production related product supply stage.

Siddiqur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), demanded scrapping the provision of audit in the customs point and stop unusual harassment by locking Business Identification Number (BIN) of the exporters.

Gazi Golam Dastagir, MP expressed the hope that tax would not be increased in the election year.

He said almost 80 per cent of the proposals made by the budget consultative committee of NBR and FBCCI remained unimplemented in the budget.

Ferdous Ara Begum, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the BUILD, said almost all the provisions of the deferred VAT law have been incorporated in the draft VAT rule-1991, making the stakeholders confused over the issue.

In the programme, the FBCCI president sought to know the actual reason for increase in rod price.

Md Shahidullah, Managing Director of the Metrocem and secretary general of Bangladesh Auto Rerolling and Steel Mills Association, said prices of rod increased by 35 per cent in the local market due to sharp hike of its raw materials' prices and excel load policy.

Businesses from different sectors also proposed that the NBR make e-commerce and online business tax-free, save local printing industry, extend support to develop a local automobile manufacturing industry, continue the facility of package VAT until 2019, resolve ambiguity of the insurance sector relating to management expenses etc.

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