In case of any tax-related allegation, the bank account of any businessman should be seized only after a thorough judicial analysis by high-ranking revenue officials.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Economic Adviser Dr Moshiur Rahman came up with the observation at a virtual pre-budget discussion jointly organised by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), the Daily Samakal and Channel-24 on Saturday afternoon.
The PM's adviser said at present, NBR's (National Board of Revenue) central intelligence cell, Anti-Corruption Commission and the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit have the power to seize the bank account of a person or organisation, if accused of tax evasion, money laundering or any illegal transactions.
Regarding seizure of bank accounts, traders often complain of harassment by the above mentioned organisations.
In this context, Rahman said, if found involved in misappropriation of money, NBR can seize the bank accounts of traders if needed. As a result, the traders cannot pay the dues of his employees, pay the prices of products he had bought, causing serious disruption in business activities.
"Despite being the owner of the account, he then becomes deprived of spending his own money. It is a direct violation of his right to use his own property," he said, adding that the decision to seize the account of any person or organisation should be taken after careful analysis of the senior NBR officials.
Mentioning that the economic and social impact of account seizure should be analyzed before seizing the account, Moshiur Rahman said, "Even if the account is seized, it must be taken into consideration that production and supply of that business is not hampered at all due to the seizure of the account."
Commenting on the budget, he said, "The balance between the progress of the industry and the collection of revenue must be maintained.
He called upon the government not to change the tax rate frequently.
The adviser said the people have the right to know why they are paying taxes and whether the tax money is being used properly for development activities.
Former FBCCI Vice-President Md Jashim Uddin, former president of BKMEA Md Fazlul Haque, Chairman of Chattogram Stock Exchange Asif Ibrahim, research organisation Build's Chairman Abul Kashem Khan, President of Private Economic Zone Association of Bangladesh ASM Mainuddin Monem, United Hospital Chairman Mohammad Faizar Rahman and Bangladesh Super Shop Owners Association President Kazi Inam Ahmed proposed tax cuts on various issues in their respective sectors.
In response to the demands of BGMEA's Md Jashim Uddin, BKMEA's Md Fazlul Haque, and CSE's Asif Ibrahim, NBR's Tax Policy Member Md Alamgir Hossain assured that this year's budget will coordinate between revenue collection targets and business-friendly environment.
He commented that the corporate tax rate in Bangladesh is 32.5% is a fake allegation. The tax rate would come down if the tax coverage is expanded and the financial statements of businesses were more transparent.
Md Masud Sadik, member of VAT Policy of NBR, said that online VAT return submission has increased a lot.
Mentioning that the work of giving EFD (Electronic Fiscal Device) for VAT collection is going on, he said, "Strict action will be taken against anyone who does not mention the sales information properly."
Citing that although the SME sector, which was hit by the first wave of Covid pandemic was preparing to turn around, the second wave of the pandemic is going to create difficult problems for the sector, SME Foundation President Md Masudur Rahman called upon thew government to pay special attention to SME sector in the upcoming budget."
Agreeing with him, the special guest of the discussion BRAC chairman Hossain Zillur Rahman said banks as well as micro-lenders could be involved in implementing the SME incentive package.
He said the main goal of the forthcoming budget should be to increase the coverage and amount of social security programmes to address the impact of Covid on the poorest sections of the society.
Energy expert Professor Dr Mohammad Tamim said the reason behind Bangladesh's economic progress is low-cost fuel and cheap wages.
Recommending not to increase energy prices frequently, he said the purpose of these projects would be jeopardised if gas and electricity connections could not be provided to special economic zones.
Syed Golam Kibria, Member, Customs and ICT Policy, NBR; Matiur Rahman, Chairman, Uttara Motors Ltd; Adeeb Hossin Khan, Naser Ejaz Vijay, Standard Chartered Bank CEO, and Raheel Ahmed, CEO of Nagad, among others, also addressed the discussion conducted by Dhaka Chamber President Rizwan Rahman.