The government will bring all eligible people under the tax net apart from forcing all electronic taxpayer identification number (e-TIN) holders to submit their tax returns, said Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Monday.
The finance minister was virtually briefing reporters after emerging from an online meeting titled "Planning for revenue collection in the current fiscal year" with top officials at the National Board of Revenue (NBR).
Secretary to Finance Division Abdur Rauf, NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem and other high officials from the finance ministry and the revenue board joined the meeting.
Kamal said, "According to the estimates of various agencies including the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, there are around four crore middle-income people in the country at present. They all are eligible to pay tax, but only 22 lakh people submitted their tax returns in the last fiscal year."
All middle-class people will be brought under the tax net. For this, income tax offices will be set up in all upazilas. They will take actions against those TIN holders who do not submit returns, he added.
According to the NBR, at the end of the fiscal year 2019-20, 46 lakh people have taken e-TIN. However, 22 lakh taxpayers submitted returns as it is not mandatory for all e-TIN holders to submit returns if they do not have taxable income.
The finance minister thinks the government will be able to attain its revenue collection target if submission of returns is made mandatory for all e-TIN holders.
Moreover, it is necessary to take up an extensive programme, including the carrying out of a survey in rural markets and upazilas, to widen the tax net.
The finance minister asked the NBR chairman to submit a proposal for recruiting manpower for this purpose.
Alternative dispute resolution and other legal matters have been discussed in the meeting to recover around Tk40,000 crore stuck in various cases.
Kamal directed the NBR to take special measures by contacting the attorney general to expedite the cases' disposal.
Installation of EFD for VAT collection on August 25
The NBR will install Electric Fiscal Device (EFD) in 100 businesses in the first phase on August 25 on an experimental basis to speed up the revenue collection process amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The business entities will collect their buying and selling information through these machines. The NBR will monitor it from its central database.
NBR Chairman Abu Hena Rahmatul Muneem said the issue was discussed at the meeting.
They are emphasising automation to meet the revenue collection target, he added.
Later, they will provide EFDs to 10,000 more business and gradually to all institutions. This will stop revenue evasion.
"CPD's statement on GDP growth is based on assumption"
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has termed the Centre for Policy Dialogue's (CPD) comments on GDP growth as speculative.
He said the BBS data of 5.24 percent GDP growth for the fiscal year 2019-20 are correct.
The finance minister said, "The BBS gives us information on data while the CPD collects raw materials [information] from us and adds its own assumption to those. They themselves do not get any information."
Referring to the government's GDP data, the finance minister also said, "Anyone can perceive the real scenario of our economy by looking at villages, mills, factories, and also at the resources of rivers, canals and beels."
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted economic activities to some extent, but those have not come to a grinding halt, he added.
"If we had said that we have attained our targeted 8.2 percent GDP growth in the last fiscal year they could have raised questions. But, we have downsized our GDP growth at 5.24 percent in the last fiscal year. So, there is no room for casting doubt on this growth," Kamal said.
On Sunday, the CPD claimed that the provisional data used by the BBS to estimate a 5.24 percent GDP growth in the 2019-20 fiscal year does not reflect the latest economic reality amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The civil society organisation said the economy had been experiencing a slump even before the outbreak of Covid-19, while it registered a negative growth in the last three months of the fiscal year 2019-20 due to the pandemic.
Against such a backdrop, it seems impossible that the overall growth rate would cross 2.5 percent in the last year, according to the CPD.
Earlier in June this year, the World Bank in its June 2020 Global Economic Prospects projected Bangladesh's GDP growth to come down to 1.6 percent in the FY20.
Prior to this, in April, the World Bank had projected that Bangladesh's GDP growth in FY20 may slump to 2 to 3 percent due to the dire situation from Covid-19.