State-run investment facilitating agencies including Bangladesh Investment Development Authority on Monday advised National Board of Revenue to adopt policies focusing on investment, development and industrialisation instead of the current revenue-focused ones.
At a pre-budget discussion with NBR at the revenue board’s office in Dhaka, the agencies also said that no investment proposals would be successful without policy support from NBR.
NBR should take steps including offering incentives to improve skill development of the country’s manpower to prevent outflows of foreign currencies, they said.
BIDA executive chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam said that NBR should not prepare a ‘copy and paste’ budget from documents of the previous year rather it should prepare a budget keeping the challenges of the coming days in mind.
NBR is a policy institution though it inherits the word revenue in its name, he said, adding that NBR should work to speed up the economy.
He also said a big tension was felt in the entire economy due to a mismatch in supply and demand in labour force.
Every year around 23 lakh people are entering into the labour force but the country can create employment only for 14 lakh to 19 lakh, he said.
On the other hand, there is a severe scarcity of skilled manpower, resulting in draining out of huge amount of foreign currencies from the country for skilled manpower.
NBR will also have to provide policy support to create a manufacturing-based economy coming out from the current trade-based economy to create enough jobs, he added.
Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority executive chairman Paban Chowdhury said that the country’s economic zones including Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Industrial City had been attracting huge investment proposals.
But, these investment proposals will not be successful without policy support from NBR, he said. He said that Singapore had become a manufacturing and financial hub in Asia by providing incentives including corporate income tax at reduced rate at 17 per cent to attract investment.
A Bangladeshi-origin billion-dollar-company is also operating in Singapore, he said.
The amount of funds draining out illegally is much higher than the amount remits legally, he added.
He also recommended widening the gap between corporate income tax rates for listed and non-listed companies to encourage more companies to be listed with the capital market.
Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority managing director Hosne Ara Begum recommended expanding of the tenure of tax holiday to 15 per cent from the current 10 years.
Countries like Thailand offers 15 years tax holiday, she said.
Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority member (finance) Mizanur Rahman said that NBR should provide tax holiday for 10 years to investors at export processing zones similar to investors at economic zones.
Business Initiative Leading Development chief executive officer Ferdaus Ara Begum demanded increasing tax-free income limit for individual taxpayers to Tk 3 lakh from the current Tk 2.5 lakh, rationalisation of corporate income tax for companies and withdrawal of advance income tax on import of industrial raw materials.
NBR chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said that they would consider the impact before providing tax benefits.
He also said that NBR might consider issuing taxpayer identification number card (TIN card) and would make it mandatory for various purposes including obtaining and renewal of licences.
NBR high officials including members and first secretaries were present at the meeting.
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