On 16th September 2019, Sushasoner Jonny Procharavizan (SUPRO) and OXFAM urged the government to ensure equality in tax Management in terms of rationalizing direct tax and indirect tax ratio on the occasion of National Income Tax Day.' SUPRO’ General Secretary Mozibur Rahman commenced the program in a welcome speech. SUPRO Chairperson Abdul Awal Chaired the event and Planning Minister M A Mannan was the chief guest. Former National Board of Revenue (NBR) Chairman Mohammad Abdul Mazid, renowned economist Dr. Mahabubul Mokaddem Akash, Associate Editor of Daily Prothom Alo Mr. Abdul Quaium, Policy, Advocacy, Campaign and Communications Manager of OXFAM Mr. S M Monjur Rashid and SUPRO representatives from 45 districts were also present among others.
Mohammad Shahid Ullah from SUPRO presented a research paper titled ‘Fair Tax Monitor in Bangladesh 2018-an overview’, in which he said the country Tax to GDP ratio was the lowest among the neighboring South Asian countries. Dependency on indirect taxes like customs and value-added tax (VAT) was one of the major reasons behind this, he pointed out. In recent years, the direct tax share remained about 30%, which meant lion's share of the pressure was on the average people, especially lower-earning groups is regressive for the poor he added. Tax dodging, especially by Multi-National Companies, pending lawsuit, poor auditing system and huge tax exemptions, were also responsible for the situation, he mentioned. On the VAT issue, SUPRO believes that it is immense injustice against poor people but in return getting less public service he added.
Abdul Awal, Chairperson of SUPRO said that Government should address inequality in Tax Management system along with raising the tax payer number. He also pointed out that the Government is creating pressure on the taxpayers paying tax regularly but evading Tax going uncontrolled. He suggested that expanding the tax net is not the only solution; the government must protect revenue from being dodged.
Oxfam Communications Manager Mr. Manzoor Rashid said inconsistencies in sustainable development are being noticed. Inequalities and regional disparities between the rich and the poor are not reduced, the number of taxpayers is increasing and the trend of tax evasion is being noticed. Multinational companies are taking advantage of the tax waiver. Indirect taxes including VAT are being imposed due to increasing revenue deficit and the common people are suffering.
Renowned Economist MM Akash said success in women's progress is being noticed and gender-sensitive budget has been introduced. Foreign dependence has been reduced and the percentage of tax rates are mounting steadily he added. Probing the government he mentioned rate of indirect taxes is more than direct taxes. Every year a lot of money is being smuggled through Swiss Bank and there is no effective action he added. He emphasized on tax ombudsman and suggested to collect property tax, prevent money laundering and eliminate fake audit.
Former Chairman of NBR Dr. M A Mazid said the proposal for National Income Tax Day was passed on the parliament on September 15, 2008. The purpose was to increase the number of taxpayers on the occasion of tax day but since 2014 the day is not followed accordingly. He said that tax ombudsman can be governed in the country and it is already in the 114 countries of the world. He also mentioned the administrative weakness behind the reduction of the tax GDP ratio. Mr.Nasiruddin of Vital Strategy said that tobacco tax should be raised at specific rates and the tax evasion by the British American tobacco should be monitored. Firoza Begum of Dhaka Campaign Group said that 4 lakh Garments workers are paying taxes, their accommodation should be arranged and the discrimination of the rich-poor should be eliminated.
The spokesman said that dependency on indirect taxes like customs and value-added tax (VAT) is one of the major reasons behind inequality. Another noteworthy issue is that VAT is not properly deposited to the Bank by the Business community, who collect it from consumers. It is recommended that the Government should develop a progressive tax system as a means of redistribution and efficient use of resources to address ongoing social inequality, NBR should be strengthened with modern ICT tools and techniques and the capacity of tax administration needed to be enhanced. Besides, an updated report of the audit conducted by Comptroller and Auditor General should be made available annually to the taxpayer citizens.
Planning Minister MA Mannan thanked SUPRO for arranging such program and said his government is working to ensure equality in tax management and measures to avoid tax evasion. He also emphasized the raising tobacco tax, development of community clinics and importance of Civil Society to raise voice for equality in tax.
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