The National Board of Revenue has made no significant progress in taking over the automated VAT system from the Vietnamese developer firm with only five months remaining before the deadline of the six-and-a-half-year long project expires.
NBR officials, particularly those at the information technology wing, also do not have the required knowledge and competency in handling the Integrated VAT Administration System (IVAS), known as automated VAT system, which put the effective maintenance and operation of the system at risk after it is taken over from the firm when the VAT Online Project expires.
The project undertaken to automate the VAT system at a cost of Tk 690 crore and launched in July 2014 is set to expire in December 2020.
FPT Information System in Vietnam received the contract to develop the system in September 2015.
The NBR in January 2019 formed a technical committee, headed by its system manager Md Shafiqur Rahman, to take over the system from the company and maintain and operate it after the end of the firm’s contract.
But, in more than one and a half years, the committee has achieved almost no progress in building the expertise of NBR officials on the technical know-how and in taking over the system mainly due to non-cooperation from the firm and lack of knowledge of the committee members regarding the SAP/ERP platforms on which the system was developed and regarding the VAT system.
FPT did not cooperate with the committee on the issue, committee members said.
Under the system, all areas of a business, including financial accounting, asset management, sales, distribution, client management, VAT and other information, will be integrated into the NBR IVAS server.
The VOP on several occasions expressed its concern over the inaction of the committee and requested the NBR to take steps to develop the expertise required in taking over the system to avoid any complexities in technology transfer and crisis in the future.
In this context, the VOP is planning to arrange training programmes for IT officials of the NBR to enhance their skills in the areas.
The revenue board has already sent a list of 27 IT officials to the project office for training, dissolving the technical committee.
VOP project director Kazi Mostafizur Rahman on Monday told New Age that the project would provide basic trainings on the SAP platform which is new for the NBR IT team and business process of the VAT system with the help of local and international firms following which FPT would provide trainings on the takeover of the IVAS system.
The project will soon place a proposal to the NBR in this regard, he said.
He said that the training modules would be prepared in a way so that the NBR IT team would not be dependent on FPT for maintenance and operation of the system in future.
He also said that the IT team would require at least two months for the basic and business process trainings.
Hopefully, the IT team will be able to take over, maintain and operate the system after the trainings.
Officials said that any failure in successfully taking over the system from the firm would make the NBR dependent on the firm as had happened in the case of online submission of income tax returns, also developed by the same firm.
The NBR also had bitter experiences in running some of its automation activities, including the Income Tax Management System of Large Taxpayers’ Unit (income tax), for failure to take over the system from the developers with the proper technical expertise.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Tax