The revenue collection figures of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) have indicated a turning point for the country's economy even amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the NBR, its revenue collection growth in the first six months of the current fiscal year was 4.11%.
However, as all sectors of the economy have not yet returned to normal, the agency was lagging behind the target by Tk30,807 crore.
The NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem disclosed the revenue collection progress at a news conference in the revenue board's conference room in the capital's Segunbagicha on Monday.
The revenue board organised the press conference to announce the programme to celebrate International Customs Day on 26 January.
The NBR chairman said the government's revenue collection target for the first six months of the fiscal year 2020-2021 was Tk1,41,225 crore.
But during this period, the revenue board collected Tk110,431 crore.
"The revenue collection target was Tk110,424 crore till December of the previous fiscal year. But the collection was Tk106,088 crore. In other words, our growth has increased by 4.10% compared to the previous year. The growth at the time of the [novel] coronavirus is undoubtedly proof of my ability," said Rahmatul Muneem.
According to the NBR's sources, a review of the revenue figures shows that despite the highest growth in the July-December period, the highest deficit was in import duty.
The deficit in this sector was Tk12,554 crore against a target of Tk46,197 crore.
During this period, Tk33,643 crore was collected from import duty, marking 6.77% growth in this sector.
The NBR chairman said the revenue officials worked hard to achieve this growth, adding that the country's customs did not close for a single day during the pandemic-related general holidays.
"Emergency services have been provided. Customs officials released personal protective gear by giving duty exemptions," he added.
The second-highest deficit was Tk10,326 crore in the value-added tax (VAT) or VAT sector.
Against the target of Tk52,838 crore, Tk42,527 crore was collected from this sector, marking 1.53% growth from the same period of the previous fiscal year.
Although VAT was introduced online, the growth in VAT has been low due to lower consumer spending, the NBR said.
The NBR has done better in the income tax sector than VAT and duties. Despite 4.8% growth, the income tax deficit was Tk792 crore.
At the end of the year, the collection of income tax returns increased compared to the previous year, the NBR said.
The NBR chairman said, "We have done well so far. The previous financial year was normal but this time the environment is different. [Novel] coronavirus vaccines have already arrived in the country and inoculations will also start soon. We will return to normal and be able to achieve our targets."
The NBR chairman said, "International Customs Day 2021 will be celebrated on Tuesday. Due to the global pandemic, this year the day will be celebrated on a slightly smaller scale. That is why the rally has been postponed but a seminar has been organised to mark the day."
According to NBR sources, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal will be virtually present at the seminar as the chief guest.
Sheikh Fazle Fahim, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI), will attend as the special guest.