The authorities concerned must take a long, hard look at how taxation continues in Bangladesh
The fact that about 88% of shop owners do not even have VAT registration numbers is not only disappointing and disheartening, but paints a clear picture of how fundamentally flawed our taxation system is.
That Bangladesh has a problem with collecting tax revenue is nothing new -- this newspaper has editorialized time and time again on it. What continues to persist, unfortunately, is a backward culture where paying taxes is not only an extremely cumbersome process, but honest, diligent tax-payers are continuously harassed, while those who evade taxes with little to no regard are allowed to get away without repercussion.
It begs the question: What is the incentive for any honest business-owner to pay taxes? If one decides to pay taxes, they are hounded and harassed. Why should any citizen feel it is their duty to pay taxes when faced with such a dismal scenario?
Furthermore, even amongst those who are willing or eager to pay taxes, the relevant authorities concerned have simply not provided any incentives to do so; as Bangladesh Shop Owners Association chief Helal Uddin rightfully said, if shop owners are provided with Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFDs), then there is a far greater chance of them paying taxes.
Thus, the authorities concerned must take a long, hard look at how taxation continues in Bangladesh. As things currently stand, there is little to no incentive for people to exercise their civic duty and pay their taxes. Unless this changes, and we are able to provide a safe, encouraging environment for tax-payers, while simultaneously punishing those who continue to evade taxes with impunity, Bangladesh will never hit its revenue targets, and its economy will always fail to reach its full potential.