Worried about adverse impacts of proposed tax hike in a new law, several trade bodies have renewed their call for lowering the new VAT rate rationally.
According to them, if the new VAT law comes into force, it will create an extra burden on the marginal consumers, thus affecting respective businesses.
The observations came at a pre-budget meeting arranged by the National Board of Revenue (NBR) with trade associations covering sectors including agricultural products and machinery, food processing, CNG filling station, jewellers, and cosmetics at the NBR auditorium in the capital on Tuesday.
Presided over by NBR Chairman Md Nojibur Rahman, the programme was also attended by NBR Members Barrister Jahangir Hossain (VAT Policy) and Parvez Iqbal (Income Tax Policy), and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Director Dilip Kumar Agarwal.
Speaking at the programme, Bangladesh Jewellers' Association General Secretary Enamul Haque Khan said despite significant demand for gold in almost every household in the country, the jewellers still don't have legal rights to import the precious metal.
He said jewellers usually buy gold from individuals coming from abroad who bring a limited amount of gold with them paying a high duty of Tk 3,000 per 200 grams.
Mr Khan pointed out that gold smuggling has been on the rise in the country due to the high duty that deprives the government of revenue earning worth Tk 5.0 to 6.0 million daily in the airports of the country.
"So, the government should reduce the duty on gold and give the jewellers legal right to import the item," he added.
Bangladesh CNG Filling Station and Conversion Workshop Owners Association Secretary-General Farhan Nur urged the NBR to withdraw the existing 0.6 per cent income tax on the turnover of the gas stations.
He also sought exemption of duties on all the CNG-related equipment, including cylinders, capital machinery of filing stations and other accessories.
Bangladesh Sweets Manufacturers Association Secretary- General Aminur Rahman pointed out double taxation as currently VAT is applicable at both sweet-manufacturing stage and sales outlets, which should remain only on sales.
He also proposed a pared-down 6.0 per cent VAT on sweets instead of the existing 15 per cent.
Bangladesh Bread, Biscuit and Confectionery Manufacturers Association president Md Jalal Uddin said new VAT law shouldn't be imposed on manually-made confectionery products because a large portion of the consumers of these products are from marginal class.
Bangladesh Cosmetics and Toiletries Importers Association Senior Vice-President Jahirul Haque Bhuiyan proposed that the supplementary duty (SD) on hair-care products be knocked down from the existing 60 per cent to 25 per cent, soap from 20 per cent to zero, and cream/lotion from 45 per cent to 15 per cent.
Bangladesh Paint Manufacturers' Association general secretary M Shamsuzzaman urged the NBR chairman to withdraw existing SD on their paint products by excluding it from the luxury-product list.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Agro Machinery Merchant Association Secretary-General Nurul Islam asked for tax waiver on locally-made agro-machinery to give the sector a chance to grow.
Bangladesh Agro Processors Association (BAPA) president AFM Fakhrul Islam Munshi urged complete withdrawal of VAT from their products because of the sector's indigenousness.