Different government agencies including law enforcement forces on Tuesday expressed reservation about a proposal of the National Board of Revenue to form a separate security force for the tax authorities.
Representatives of the agencies including the police, Bangladesh Border Guard, Coast Guard, Fire Service and Civil Defence, Department of Narcotics Control and civil administration gave their opinion on the proposal placed at a meeting held at NBR headquarters.
They, however, emphasised strengthening the security measures for tax officials for the sake of revenue collection.
At the meeting, the revenue board highlighted the necessity of the formation of a permanent revenue force for the NBR citing different incidents including death threats, attacks on NBR officials during different drives against tax evasion, smuggling and other offences related to tax.
Miscreants have also attacked and vandalised tax offices on many occasions, it argued, adding that revenue collection was also hampered due to the threats.
NBR in its proposal also placed three options including empowering the tax officials involved in risky jobs by allowing them to carry firearms, forming a temporary armed force with deployment of the members of law enforcing agencies and strengthening the existing partnership between the NBR and agencies until a permanent revenue force was formed.
Currently, tax officials can seek cooperation from law enforcement agencies for conducting enforcement activities.
Additional inspector general of police (administration and operations) Mohammad Mokhlesur Rahman said police would provide all types of support to the NBR for ensuring the security of revenue collection and its officials.
It was up to the government whether it would form a permanent revenue force, he observed.
The commanding authorities and control of the force should be with the police if the force was formed with its members, he said.
‘Such force should be formed with members from a single force. We don’t believe in composite force as it doesn’t work properly,’ he said.
Fire service director general Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan, however, suggested that a composite force comprising members of different forces and headed by civil administration would be more effective in protecting revenue.
He said that the force would provide security for revenue officials during revenue collection and there would be no policing function.
It would also not be a revenue force, he said.
BGB additional director general Brig Gen Abul Hasnat Khairul Bashar said that there was not dispute about the necessity of security of the NBR but it would not be wise to give firearms to the officials.
Police might form a separate unit named NBR police for the task as formation of a permanent revenue force had involvement of different issues including training, command control and setting temperament, he said.
Dhaka divisional commissioner M Bazlul Karim Chaudhury said that the issue of forming a separate force needed further discussion as there were other stakeholders like business community.
There were risks in any profession, he pointed out, saying that even police also faced attacks and threats. So, strengthening the existing facility would bring better results, he suggested.
There were no such forces also in neighbouring countries, he further argued.
State minister for finance and planning MA Mannan said that the government would consider the proposal of forming a security force for the NBR if the tax authorities could come up with a reasonable and workable proposal.
He also said that the tax authorities could strengthen the existing provision of receiving cooperation from the law enforcement agencies.
NBR chairman Md Nojibur Rahman, however, stressed that tax officials had been facing threats and attacks during their enforcement activities related to revenue protection and collection.
Earlier, a member of the NBR was injured as miscreants shot him and some other officials also faced physical attacks during carrying out official duties of revenue collection, he added.
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