FT online

Published:
2019-03-18 10:40:07 BdST

NBR loses Tk 1.4 trillion in 4.5 yrs


The government has offered around Tk 1.47 trillion in the form of tax exemptions at import stage to the various sectors since fiscal year (FY) 2014-15 until January last.

The amount of tax waived is nearly half the current fiscal's total tax-revenue collection target of Tk 2.96 trillion.

This has caused a Tk 441.17 billion of revenue loss to the public exchequer during the fiscal year (FY) 2017-18.

In an analysis of the data collected from various government sources, the FE has found the volume of taxes in the form of exemptions has been increasing every year since FY 15.

In FY 2014-15, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) granted tax exemptions to the tune of Tk 210.70 billion on the import stage, which doubled in FY 2017-18.

Until January of the current fiscal, the NBR granted some Tk 271.08 billion as tax exemptions to various sectors.

Officials said such tax exemption is one of the major reasons for the failure in achieving the revenue collection target.

In a brief analysis, the customs wing has found a total of 21 sectors that have enjoyed tax exemptions during the last four years.

The sectors include: capital machinery, raw materials, pharmaceuticals, economic zones, goods imported by diplomatic missions, mobile phone manufacturers, poultry feed, SAFTA goods, computer manufacturing, shipbuilding, textiles, baggage rules and duty-free car/jeep import by Members of Parliament (MPs).

Some senior officials of the revenue board said the amount of tax revenue loss would go up significantly by the end of this fiscal following substantial number of exemptions granted by the government ahead of the last national elections.

The NBR offered Tk 66.03 billon tax exemptions from the import of capital machinery while Tk 22.83 billion for raw materials in the first seven months of the FY 2018-19.

Analysing the NBR data, it has been found that lawmakers availed the duty-free benefit on the import of cars worth Tk 15.94 billion in the last four years.

Of the amount, they have availed highest duty-free facility worth Tk 6.43 billion in FY 2014-15 on the import of duty-free cars, followed by Tk 2.46 billion, Tk 3.96 billion and Tk 2.21 billion in FY 16, FY 17 and FY 18 respectively.

Until January of the current fiscal, the MPs availed Tk 889 million duty-free facilities on import of cars.

Tax exemptions, under baggage rules, have been granted worth Tk 6.60 billion in the first seven months of the current fiscal, which were Tk 8.41 billion and Tk 15 billion in FY 18 and FY 17 respectively.

Also, the NBR granted different special tax waivers valued at Tk 126.53 billion in different forms in the July-January period of this fiscal.

Diplomatic missions in Bangladesh imported goods worth Tk 3.08 billion until January under duty-free facility.

The highest volume of duty-free import by diplomatic missions was in FY 15 worth Tk 12.13 billion followed by Tk 11.13 billion, Tk 5.55 billion and Tk 4.71 billion in FY 16, FY 17 and FY 18 respectively.

The government offered a total of Tk 16.88 billion in the form of tax exemptions on the import of pharmaceuticals raw materials from FY 14 to until January of the current fiscal.

For the import of poultry feed, the volume of tax exemptions was Tk 9.06 billion.

The shipbuilding sector has availed Tk 3.43 billion tax exemptions in the last four fiscal years and first seven months of this FY.

The president of Bangladesh availed Tk 840.4 million tax exemptions until January this year on the import of different duty-free goods. The volume of tax waivers was Tk 856 million last year, Tk 30 million in FY 17, Tk 1.06 billion in FY 16.

Under the SAFTA agreement, the NBR offered Tk 1.47 billion tax exemptions in the first seven months of the current fiscal. It was Tk 3.27 billion in the last fiscal, Tk 2.46 billion in FY 17 and Tk 3.41 billion in FY 16.

The textile sector availed Tk 2.26 billion tax exemptions on the import of raw materials until January while computer manufactures Tk 1.83 billion.

To lure investment in the country's economic zones, the government offered Tk 3.82 billion tax exemptions until January of the current fiscal, which was Tk 3.64 billion last year.

Dr Nasir Uddin, a former NBR chairman, said such tax exemptions are a distortion and create unusual pressure on the economy.

He, however, preferred offering tax exemptions on a limited scale through adequate exercise in the national budget and avoid giving tax waiver by issuing statutory regulatory orders (SROs) after budget.

However, Dr Zaidi Sattar, Chairman of the Policy Research Institute (PRI) of Bangladesh said tax benefit for the import of capital machinery and raw materials is required for boosting the economy.

"Revenue collection on the import stage should be phased out gradually and emphasis should be given on the collection of domestic and corporate taxes," he said.

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