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VAT dialogue heats up between Muhith and business leaders

  • Published at 11:51 am April 30th, 2017
  • Last updated at 08:20 am May 1st, 2017
VAT dialogue heats up between Muhith and business leaders
Finance Minister AMA Muhith met with FBCCI members and NBR officials at the 38th NBR-FBCCI National Consultative Committee meeting on Sunday. At the meeting, the various parties explained their positions on the new VAT law. Businessowners’ Union Council President Abu Motaleb threatened to go on strike if the government imposed 3% additional VAT on businesses with a yearly turnover of Tk80 lakh or less. He said: “We shall protest like university students who took to the streets against the unjust VAT. “A World Bank project worth $90 million was supposed to be used to train people about using the Electronic Cash Register (ECR). But FBCCI only trained seven of their own directors. No small business owners were trained. “What business owner in Chowk Bazar knows how to use an ECR machine?” Motaleb exclaimed. Incensed by Motaleb’s reference to the nationwide student protest against VAT on education, Muhith responded saying the government would retaliate swiftly against any protests. He said: “You don’t even pay taxes, but you make lofty claims? Only 32,000 registered businesses out of 800,000 pay their taxes on a regular basis. How many of those 32,000 businesses are small?” The FBCCI’s counterproposal was for the government to impose the tax on businesses with a yearly turnover of Tk5 crore and increase the tax-free individual income bracket from Tk2,50,000 to Tk3,25,000. Attempting to calm the business owners, FBCCI Vice President Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said: “We have to be patient and hope that the government will accept our demands. Till now, we have not seen the budget.” “In the NBR online video, they used a sweetmeat vendor to represent all VAT dodgers, but the reality is that not all such vendors dodge taxes. We are not provoking each other, it is misrepresentation of this kind that provokes us,” he added. NBR chairman Md. Nojibur Rahman also weighed into the argument, saying: “Threats should not be made during budget discussion meetings. You are angry with the finance minister about the implementation of the new VAT law, but the thing is, he is actually trying to help you.” After the discussion, while Muhith responded to questions from the stakeholders, he said Motaleb’s remark was not pertinent to the discussion and ought to have been withdrawn. The new Value Added Tax Act 2012, proposed in 2012, stipulates a 15% VAT on almost all products, effective from July 1, 2017. Business owners have bitterly responded to the law, claiming it is unfair.
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