National Board of Revenue chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan on Wednesday assured the foreign investors that from now on there would be consistency in the fiscal policy in a bid to ensure business- and investment-friendly environment in the country.
He made the promise while delivering speech as chief guest at a luncheon meeting where foreign investors highlighted inconsistency and uncertainty in the fiscal policy as the major barrier to attracting investment particularly foreign direct investment in the country.
The Foreign Investors’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry organised the meeting at the Westin Hotel in Dhaka.
At the programme, FICCI leaders called for a pragmatic, predictable and enforceable fiscal policy along with bringing some changes in the tax regime to create investment-friendly environment in Bangladesh.
Corporate income tax rate should be reduced by phases to align with that in competing economies like Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia where the tax rates range between 20 per cent and 28 per cent whereas it ranges from 25 per cent to 35 per cent in Bangladesh.
Seeking long-term fiscal measures, they said that inconsistency and uncertainly in the policy were not good for business.
The FICCI also recommended that the NBR incorporate the progressive provisions of the suspended Value-Added Tax Act -2012 in the existing VAT Act-1991 so that taxpayers can gradually become habituated with the provisions when the new law comes into force in July, 2019.
‘We will continue to discuss with you as well as domestic producers so that we can have a business-friendly fiscal policy in the coming years,’ Mosharraf said.
‘I have also instructed NBR officials to be compliant with rules and laws and not to harass any one,’ he said, adding that officials would have to face the consequences if they don’t follow the instruction.
The NBR will also try to accommodate the proposals made by the FICCI as many as possible at the budget exercise for creating a congenial atmosphere for business operation in the country, he added.
FICCI president Shehzad Munim said that FICCI members were the most important economic partners of the country contributing 30 per cent to the overall tax revenue.
‘Bangladesh will require at least $50 billion investment to achieve its target of achieving middle-income country status and sustainable development goals,’ he said.
It will not be possible without FDI, he said, adding that the FICCI could play important part
in this field through attracting new FDI and expanding operation of existing entities.
He said that the role of the tax authority would be critical here as to how it would behave with the investors and how it would create business-friendly environment.
Immediate past FICCI president Rupali Chowdhury sought a long-term fiscal policy — at least for five years — for ensuring consistency and removing uncertainty over policy issues.
Investors remain worried and uncertain over what tax measures are coming in next year and such kind of uncertainty is not good for business, she said.
She also sought transparency in file movement and implementation of the laws.
‘Laws are there but implementation is a serious problem,’ she said.
FICCI executive committee member Francois de Maricourt, taxation sub-committee
convener Abdul Khalek and executive director Jamil Osman also spoke at the programme.
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