Kaus Mia, the owner of Hakimpuri Zarda, has been one of the highest taxpayers in the business sector since 2008. He also bagged the best taxpayer award in the business in Mujib Year. The National Board of Revenue handed him the crest and certificate on Friday.
In 1967, in then-East Pakistan, Kaus Mia became the number one taxpayer. At present, he owns assets worth Tk10,000 crore. In 1958, he paid tax for the first time.
Kaus Mia was born on 26 August, 1931 in Chandpur. His ancestors were residents of the then-state of Tripura. He was a student of class IX in 1945 but could not continue his studies because of World War II.
His father wanted him to continue his studies but Kaus Mia took money from his mother and set up a grocery store in the old market of Chandpur in 1950 and thus the 19-year-old teen Kaus Mia started his business career.
Gradually, he became an agent of 18 cigarette, biscuit and soap brands, and for the next 20 years, he did business in Chandpur.
He moved to Narayanganj in 1970 and started the tobacco business. He is currently involved in 40-45 types of business but still, his main business is the tobacco trade.
From the tobacco business, the idea of producing zarda (Indian chewing tobacco flavoured with spices) came to his mind. He first launched Shantipuri Zarda but as it was counterfeited, he launched Hakimpuri Zarda in 1996.
He told The Business Standard (TBS) he had earned Tk400-500 crore from the tobacco and zarda business. According to NBR sources, Kaus Mia pays Tk45-50 crore in taxes every year. At present, there are 18 cargo ships that are being looked after by his sons.
He recently talked to TBS and shared the stories of his life, family, business, and future plans.
TBS: You have lived a long life. What is your reflection on life?
Kaus Mia: Yes, I am 91 but healthy and running the businesses smoothly. I do not have any serious disease. I can move anywhere without anyone's help. I am grateful to the Creator. I hope I will be able to spend the rest of my life like this. The Creator has given me a happy family and a huge fortune. I believe I have performed my duties properly.
I have never cheated anyone. Probably, that is the reason people love me so much. Many people do business, but how many get respect from people? I am very happy.
TBS: Well, now you are not as busy as before, how do you spend your time?
Kaus Mia: No matter the age, I still enjoy working. If I cannot work, I do not feel good. I still manage my business activities. I start working in the morning and cannot go to bed before 2am. I still spend as much time in business as I used to in my youth.
When I was 87, the doctor told me it is too great an expectation if I want to walk like a youth at this age. The doctor told me to talk less and follow many rules, which I do not enjoy following.
TBS: You have been one of the highest taxpayers in the business class for 14 consecutive years. None of the top taxpayers in other sectors pay as much as you do each year…
Kaus Mia: Even before independence, I received the best taxpayer award. The country and its people have given me so much. I think I have to give something in return. I wish I could explain to you how much I enjoy paying tax to the government!
Let me tell you an incident. In 1973, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave me a revolver for my personal safety, which is one of the most memorable events of my life.
TBS: You started your business with only Tk2,500 in 1950. How much are your assets at present?
Kaus Mia: My ancestors were landlords. My grandparents had 500-600 bighas of land. Now, I have land in the name of my children and a lot of money. By the grace of the Almighty, I have so many assets that many cannot imagine.
TBS: Other businessmen in the country do business with loans from banks but you never do.
Kaus Mia: My ancestors never took a loan from a bank and were never involved in politics. I have not done so either. I have not allowed my descendants to do so, too. I have told them to do business and help poor people.
TBS: Why do you not do an import business?
Kaus Mia: Once I made a licence for importing goods. After starting I realised it was difficult to survive in this sector without making any manipulation. So, I quit.
TBS: There is a lot of curiosity among people about the more than 30 empty houses you have in different parts of Dhaka city in which no one lives.
Kaus Mia: It will be more than 30. I have made houses in different places for sons, daughters and relatives to stay. When I liked a house, I bought it. No one lives there now but I know the time will come when some of my family members will not get a place to stay.
TBS: Is there any specific reason for naming Shantipuri or Hakimpuri?
Kaus Mia: There is no special reason behind naming Shantipuri or Hakimpuri. However, the word Hakimpur is easy on the tongue.
TBS: Being such a big businessman, why is your office at a narrow alley in Old Dhaka instead of in Gulshan, Banani or Motijheel?
Kaus Mia: There is no specific reason behind this. I will stay anywhere the Creator puts me. I cannot do anything on my own.