Business leaders in Chattogram have proposed increasing the tax-free income threshold from Tk3 lakh to Tk4 lakh in the upcoming budget considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Similarly, for women and taxpayers above 60, the limit should be Tk4,50,000 instead of Tk3,50,000, said Mahbubul Alam, president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), at a pre-budget views exchange meeting organised by the chamber on Thursday.
He proposed setting up a separate bench in the High Court to expedite the disposal of income tax, VAT and customs related cases.
The CCCI president also said that a 5% advance tax has been imposed on the import of raw materials for the steel industry. As per rules, there is a provision to adjust that tax in case of subsequent marketing and sale.
A huge amount of money from various business groups involved in the steel industry has been stuck for a long time in the revenue department, though there is an obligation to coordinate that amount within six months. In view of these adversities, it was essential to adjust the 5% advance tax within 60 days and make provisions for a refund to traders, he added.
Mahbubul Alam has made some proposals that include declaring an entire group as being in debt default if any of its organisations has defaulted on loans, quick delivery of imported products from FCL (Full Container Load) port, introducing source tax, car tax token, quarterly tax token, quarterly advance tax, etc.
He said it would be possible to achieve the desired GDP and sustain economic growth if the proposals and demands of the traders are properly evaluated at the government's policy-making level for inclusion in the forthcoming budget.
Abu Hena Mohammad Rahmatul Munim, chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR), in his remarks said tax collection was not the only objective of the government. The government also aimed to develop local industries, increase production of agricultural products, protect the environment and ensure food security.
In many cases, taxes had to be levied on imported goods for the development of local industries, he added.
The NBR chairman said the import of sodium sulphate for industry should be restricted in order to protect the country's salt farmers. The Ministry of Industries will have to take responsibility in this regard. Import permits have to be issued as per demands of the industry.
He added that the process was being automated to bring transparency and accountability and stop harassment in tax collection.
Expecting the desired revenue collection in the tourism sector, the NBR chairman said the tourism industry was likely to bring in a lot of revenue. That was why logistical support had to be ensured. There was bright potential in the tourism sector around Cox's Bazar.
"We have developed apps for audit reports. If you enter the audit data, the code number will come. We will not accept audit reports without code numbers. If the accounts are transparent, there should not be any fear regarding taxes," he added.
Chittagong Port Member (Finance) Md Kamrul Amin said four scanners would be installed for export-containers. These scanners would need to be installed for the implementation of ISPS code compliance.
NBR members Alamgir Hossain, Syed Golam Kibria and Masud Sadiq were present as special guests at the meeting. Besides, leading industrialists, business leaders, tax lawyers, businessmen, Chattogram Customs House officials and others were also present on the occasion.