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2019-04-16 10:44:50 BdST

Avoid 'cut and paste' type budget for next fiscal year, investment promotion agencies tell NBR

The country's investment development authorities, on Monday, sought adequate policy support from the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to further promote investment while making the existing initiatives successful.

They said such policy support from the NBR will help generate more employment and transform the country's existing trade-based economy into a production-based one.

The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA), the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) and the Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority (BHTPA) said these at a pre-budget meeting with the NBR.

NBR Chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan chaired the meeting.

BIDA Executive Chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam said the NBR will have to incorporate required policies in the budget for promoting investment.

"We don't want a 'cut-paste' type national budget this year like in the previous years."

The national budget should address the employment situation seriously, as technological advancement is eating up share of employment despite higher export growth, he added.

BEZA Executive Chairman Paban Chowdhury said implementation of the existing investment proposals largely depends on the NBR's policy support.

"No investment initiative can be fully successful without its policy support."

He expects a liberal attitude of the NBR towards investors in a bid to improve the country's investment scenario.

He also proposed automation for the bonded warehouse licensing process to reduce the NBR officials' involvement.

BHTPA Managing Director Hosne Ara Begum appreciated the NBR's role in offering incentive packages for investors of the hi-tech park.

"Some of our aggrieved investors, who earlier left the park, have returned to the site with their investment following the NBR's support."

She suggested holding workshops with the investment development authorities to resolve confusion on tax matters.

BEPZA Member (Finance) Mizanur Rahman said tax holiday facility for investors affiliated with BEPZA and BEZA should be equal.

Currently, the investors with BEZA enjoy full tax waiver for ten years, while those with BEPZA get reduced tax holiday for five to seven years on the basis of location.

He also sought duty-free facility for import of cars by the industries located in the export processing zones (EPZs), the facility which the NBR had scrapped in 2009.

Ferdous Ara Begum, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD), proposed an increase in the tax-free limit for individual taxpayers to Tk 0.3 million, to raise the amount of minimum tax to Tk 5,500, and rationalisation of advance income tax for industrial raw materials at import stage etc.

She also suggested offering tax cards to all taxpayers while extending the existing facility.

Currently, the NBR gives tax cards to the taxpayers for their highest and long-term payment of tax on some specific categories.

Responding to the suggestions, the NBR chairman said he is also considering an option to give 'Taxpayers Identification Number (TIN) Card' to the taxpayers just after submission of tax returns.

"It can be a permanent card that the taxpayers can use for availing different services, including licensing and renewal."

A copy of the TIN card can be made mandatory for availing different services, he added.

NBR Member Kanon Kumar Roy said earlier the TIN database was in a mess that has been cleaned up through introducing e-TIN.

He, however, said still there are a huge number of fake TINs that could not be indentified easily. Some 80-90 per cent of the fake TINs were used for purchase of land and credit card.

The BUILD CEO suggested the NBR prepare a policy guideline for offering tax holiday facility to the industries.

"In a study, we have found that some 408 industries have been getting tax holiday facility uninterruptedly for the last 15-16 years."

Some of the potential sectors are not getting the facility, while some sectors have been enjoying the same for last 10 years, she noted.

On VAT law, she proposed introduction of four-layer VAT rates, increase in the VAT-free ceiling to Tk 5.0 million from the existing Tk 3.6 million, and phasing out of the supplementary duty (SD) from 1,271 products gradually that are currently enjoying the protection.

Responding to the proposals, the NBR chief said some think-tanks have proposed to the NBR to cut the high tariff protection to the local industries to make the market competitive.

"We're not doing so, but we're looking into the issue to see to what extent the NBR can offer the protective tariff."

On reduction of corporate tax, he said the NBR will have to think about coping up with the loss, if it cuts the corporate tax rate.

On tax-free threshold for individuals, he said the NBR will take decision in this regard as per the direction of the government high-ups.

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