Draft VAT Act-2012 approved in cabinet
Institutions evading Value Added Tax (VAT) on forged documents will have to face jail term or fine or both, according to the draft of VAT Act-2012 the Cabinet approved on Tuesday.
The Cabinet also approved the draft of National Statistics Act-2012, under which information relating to agriculture, industry, environment and census would be collected, preserved and produced.
The draft of the National River Commission Act-2012 approved by the cabinet said it would empower the government to form a river commission for resisting river grabbing and other irregularities.
Cabinet Secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters about the decision taken at a Cabinet meeting at the Secretariat presided over by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Bhuiyan said the drafts would be vetted by the Law Ministry before being placed in parliament for passage.
The Cabinet also approved draft of a proposal to sign a visa-free deal with Philippines, the Secretary said.
The new VAT Act enlarges the purview of taxation. As it is considered a finance bill, the act requires to get the President’s approval before being tabled in the House.
The act provides for year-long jail or fine or both to individuals for evading tax at the institutional level by forging documents.
Individuals dodging tax or preventing VAT officers from carrying out their duties could be punished with six months of imprisonment or fine or both. In the previous act, the National Board of Revenue (NBR)’s approval was mandatory before filing a case against an individual for tax evasion, which has been done away with in the new act.
Only tax commissioner’s approval will be good enough to file such cases.
“This new act is the combination of all old acts and ordinances. Besides, language complexities have also been removed,” said Secretary Bhuiyan.
The new act would also enable government functionaries to file cases in the court of Judicial Magistrate which would hasten the tax evasion trial, he said.
The act has also pushed tax ceiling for business transactions up to Tk 0.7 million, which was Tk 0.6 million earlier. Besides, it has a provision of realising tax in exchange of monthly returns.
“The Act also has provision to reward regular tax payers and settle dispute through alternative ways,” said the Secretary.
National River Protection Commission Act
This act will help prevent building infrastructures by encroaching rivers through a National River Protection Commission. The commission would comprise six members, with the Chairman assuming the role of Chief Executive. The Chairman and one member would be made permanent employee while other members would be appointed for a fixed period.
River or water experts, environment specialists, river engineers and human rights activists or lawyers could be members of the commission, it provides. At least one of the members would be a woman. The Commission would have headquarters in the capital and it could establish regional offices after getting approval from the government.
The President would appoint the Chairman and other members of the commission for a term of three years while none of the people appointed can hold a position more than twice.
As per the act, the Commission would act for creating public awareness for protecting rivers, conducting researches on river protection, ensuring river management, and taking up both short and long-term plans for protection of river.
National Statistics Act-2012
“Previously, all activities relating to statistics was conducted under ordinances and gazette notifications. There was no law in effect. So, an effort has been made to make a law combining all those ordinances and notifications,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
Under the law, various ministries could make statistical database based on their demand after taking permission and assistance from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
Any obstruction in collection of data would be attract punishments.
A bureau would be set up in the capital under the law for collection, preservation and publication of information relating to agriculture, industries, environment and census. The bureau may have its regional office, if necessary.
The act provides, the Bureau would be headed by a Director General, who would oversee its activities through a council comprising MPs and secretaries of different ministries. The manpower and property of the BBS would be shifted to the new Bureau.
Bangladesh-Philippines Visa Deal
Cabinet Secretary Bhuiyan said if the deal was signed, diplomats of the countries would not require visas for travelling to either country.
It would be easier for those holding diplomatic passports to get visa.