Dhaka, Sept 6 (UNB) - The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has started the process to procure modern technology-based electronic fiscal devices (EFDs), aiming to check VAT evasion both at the retail and wholesale levels.
Sources at the NBR said it has already placed a work order to procure 10,000 EFDs spending Tk 317 crore to install those at 24 types of businesses, including hotels, restaurants, fast-food shops, confectionaries, jewellers, beauty parlors, furniture shops, RMG or boutique shops, department stores, general or super shops, wholesalers and large retail stores.
The revenue collecting authority will gradually procure around one lakh EFDs.
An NBR senior official said the government announced to start the operation of EFDs in the beginning of the current fiscal year and it placed the work order as part of that.
He said SZZT Electronics Company Limited, a Chinese company, will deliver the devices and the NBR will supply those to different business entities after their delivery.
The NBR official hoped that it would be possible to deliver the EFDs to the business entities within the next one month. "The EFD will be helpful in bringing transparency in VAT payment plugging the loopholes to evade taxes," he said.
The government earlier made the EFD use mandatory in 24 types of business entities in city corporation areas and district towns to check VAT evasion. The NBR has already issued an order in this regard.
The new EFDs will replace the electronic cash register (ECR) and the point of sale (POS).
According to the order, installation of EFDs is mandatory at the outlets where the annual turnover exceeds the VAT free ceiling, which means Tk 50 lakh a year.
The NBR is saying that the EFD is the upgraded version of the ECR, which is used by business houses.
If any business entity does not use the device or any deviation in using it is proved then the entity will have to pay Tk 20,000-50,000 in fine. If such an offence is committed repeatedly then the NBR will lock the Business Identification Number (BIN).
The EFDs will be connected online with a server at the NBR. Any entry from a particular business entity will be registered at the NBR server.
"This will help bring transparency, and remove the scope to evade tax, giving a boost to revenue collection," the NBR official said.
He also mentioned that customers would be able to know if the VAT they paid goes to the national exchequer as they will receive a code that would be generated by the NBR's central server.
The NBR had made the e-cash mandatory in 2008 for 11 types of businesses -- hotels, restaurants, confectionaries, jewelers, beauty salons, wholesalers and large retail stores. But the initiative did not achieve the desired success.
Besides, many businesses do not use the e-cash register even after its installation in their efforts to evade VAT allegedly in connivance with field officials of the revenue authority.
The move to install EFDs comes following advice from then Finance Minister AMA Muhith to introduce an EFD management system to combat non-payment of VAT at the retail and wholesale levels.
Several thousand shops now use electronic cash registers and point-of-sale machines. However, not all use the device to issue sales invoices to customers in a bid to evade VAT and hide actual transaction figures from taxmen.
The revenue collection target for the NBR for the running fiscal year has been fixed at Tk 3,25,600 crore.
Of the grand amount, Tk 1,13,912 crore will come from income, profit and capital taxes, while Tk 1,23,067 crore will be contributed by VAT. And supplementary tax will provide 48,153 crore while Tk 36,498 crore will come from import duty, Tk 54 from export duty, Tk 2,239 crore from the excise duty and Tk 1,677 crore as other taxes.
Khulna, Sept 6 (UNB) – Some 40,000 metric tonnes of three types of fertiliser kept under the open sky here covered with merely tarpaulin for a year for lack of storage space have got damaged, sources at the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) said.
The fertilisers were damaged during rain and when some of the areas got flooded.
The BADC sources also said three types of fertilisers – Triple Super Phosphate (TSP), Murate of Potash (MOP) and Dye Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) -- were imported from Morocco, Canada and Saudi Arabia during the 2018-19 fiscal year. Usually, contractors supervise the process until it enters the BADC warehouse.
Visiting the spot, the UNB correspondent found that the fertilisers were kept under the open sky at Roosevelt Jetty on the bank of the Bhairab River, in front of Khulna Wasa building, by along main road of Fulbari gate, inside Ajax Jute Mills and Shiromoni areas.
The fertilisers were kept on sand accumulator and these were damaged following water accumulation in some parts during the last monsoon.
According to the sources, the matter was raised at a BADC meeting on July 27 when the corporation informed that the contractors normally preserve fertilisers before shipping those to warehouses.
Proshanto Kumar Saha, Joint Director (Fertiliser) of BADC Khulna, said the fertilisers were imported during June-July in 2018. “More will be imported in the coming days. The capacity of the warehouse is 13,000 MT. So, there’s no extra space to keep the fertilisers. Besides, warehouses on rent aren’t available,” he said.
“Non-urea fertiliser remains in good condition if it’s kept under tarpaulin in airtight condition. Sand was given below. However, there would be problem if too much water is deposited there,” he added.
Quamrul Ashraf Khan, the owner of contractor firm Poton Traders Limited, said: “The amount of fertiliser being imported is greater than the capacity of the warehouse.”
Pankaj Kanti Majumder, Deputy Director of Department of Agricultural Extension, said a huge quantity of fertiliser is needed in Khulna region.
“The imported fertilisers are kept covered in the open for lack of enough space in the warehouses in Khulna,” he pointed out. “The fertilisers may be damaged if kept under the sky. Those can remain in good shape if those are preserved in an airtight space.”
Dhaka, Sept 5 (UNB) - Properly managing plastic and polythene waste is one of the biggest challenges facing the 21st century. They have become ubiquitous and can be found at the deepest point of the ocean to the highest peak to the remotest island.
The world has not made much progress when it comes to managing plastic waste. What is worrying is that a very small amount of the plastic is ever recycled.
It is especially challenging in one of the world’s largest refugee camps in Bangladesh’s coastal district of Cox’s Bazar where more than 1.1 million Rohingyas are staying. Unplanned makeshift houses mushroomed after trees were felled and hills razed.
It is unclear how much waste is produced at the camps daily, but a 2018 survey at Teknaf’s Leda makeshift camp, housing 21,000 forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals, gave some idea about the enormity of the problem.
It found that refugees at this camp produce 3.3 tonnes of waste, including organic and inorganic and unrecyclable ones. The survey found that the refugees dumped wastes, including plastic bottles and polythene bags, in the open for the lack of disposal sites and recycling options.
Carelessly discarded polythene bags and plastic bottles are major causes of concern as they clog the drains in the camp sites housing people beyond capacity. During rain, they block drains, causing water stagnation and serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Humanitarian organisations are trying to find ways to cut plastic pollution in the camps but there has been little progress.
Looking for a sustainable solution, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has set up a plastic recycling plant in the vicinity of Leda camp in collaboration with Practical Action. The plant, in operation since April 1 this year, is the first of its kind.
“Plastic waste is a growing problem,” IOM spokesman George McLeod told UNB. “We’re committed to reducing the environmental footprint of the refugee camps.”
The collected waste is first cleaned and then cut into flakes that are later melted and brought out as plastic threads. In the next step, the threads are cut into pellets and finally given cubic shapes by a molding machine.
Kazi Rashed Hyder, the programme manager of Practical Action, said the country is in dire need of a system that would help manage plastic wastes while ensuring health and safety for people.
The existing infrastructure is a first-ever trial project of such kind undertaken by Practical Action in Humanitarian concept.
“Such environment-friendly initiative should be introduced at all camps as well as in the local areas,” Hyder told UNB.
So far, the plant only produces alphabet blocks used as learning material by Rohingya children, but plans are afoot to diversify operations, officials said. Despite challenges and limitations, the plant offers a good solution to minimising plastic wastes, IOM said.
“I think it’s a tremendous project,” said McLeod. “In addition to reducing plastic waste, it’s teaching Bangladeshi people vocational skills that’ll outlast the humanitarian response. I hope it’ll be replicated elsewhere.”
Chuadanga, Sept 4 (UNB) – The outbreak of pneumonia in the district has put severe strain on the limited resources of the Sadar Upazila hospital which is struggling to cope with the situation.
More than 400 children were admitted there over the last two weeks with pneumonia while dozens of children are receiving treatment from the outdoor daily for the last few days.
Thirty-two children were hospitalised between Tuesday morning and noon alone.
Dr Asadur Rahman Malik Khokon, a child specialist of the hospital, said a change in weather is behind the outbreak.
The hospital, which only has 13 beds in its paediatric ward, is treating over a hundred children, said Civil Surgeon Dr ASM Maruf Hasan.
Overcrowding in the children’s ward is forcing the hospital to accommodate new patients on the floors and corridors. Some patients were even accommodated at the Gynecology ward beside the children ward.
Abdus Salam, a resident of Dingedah village in Sadar upazila, said he came to the hospital with his minor daughter who has been suffering from pneumonia for the last several days.
“There’s no bed. So, we’ve been accommodated on the veranda,” he said, adding that they have to remain in hospital for several days for full recovery.
Doctors and staff are struggling to cope with the steady flow of patients.
Resident Medical Officer Dr Shamim Kabir said the number of pneumonia patients has been rising since August 25 but the situation worsened recently.
“Four hundred patients had been treated since then,” he said, adding that they are having a hard time providing medical care due to shortage of manpower. “But we’re doing our best to provide services to the patients.”
A long queue was seen in front of the outdoor department with only two physicians dealing with the patients.
Rebeka Khatun, a resident of Asmankhali village in Alamdanga upazila, said she had been waiting for four hours to see the doctor. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to get my daughter checked,” she said.
Dr Khokon suggested continuing breastfeeding the children and treating them properly as per the doctor’s suggestion. “Parents should be careful so that the children don’t sweat much in hot weather,” he said.
Kurigram, Sept 4 (UNB) - An amount of Tk 1.09 crore has gone down the drain as a new bridge here has collapsed and two others remain unused for long due to the construction of those with substandard materials and without proper planning.
Locals alleged that the bridges constructed as part of rural infrastructure development do not benefit them as those have become unfit for the movement of vehicles and people for various reasons.
Visiting Fulbari upazila, the UNB correspondent found a bridge at Purbo Dhoniram village in Borovita Union collapsed in August within three months of its construction, making it unfit for plying of vehicles.
Upazila Disaster Management department constructed the 40-foot bridge at a cost of Tk 31 lakh and the contractor company completed its construction very hastily, villagers further alleged.
The bridge was opened to traffic in the first week of June but part of it caved in on August 11 due to the use of substandard materials, forcing the locals to build makeshift bamboo bridges on both sides of it.
Locals allege that substandard materials were used in constructing the bridge. Photo: UNB
Some residents of Dhoniram village in Fulbaria upazila, including Maqbul Hossain, Sohrab Mia and Chhokku Mia, told UNB that the bridge has collapsed though this year’s flood had no impact on their neighbourhood.
They said transparency is needed in implementing any government project or else the public money will go down the drain.
Contacted, Sabuj Kumar Gupta, Fulbari Upazila Project Implementation Officer (PIO), turned down the allegation of corruption in the bridge construction saying that the project was implemented as per the design but the soil got removed from under the bridge due to flood.
However, reviewing the list of flood-affected infrastructure in the upazila the correspondent did not find the name of the bridge.
Besides, two bridges built in 2017 in sadar upazila have been lying unused as no approach roads have been constructed to make those useable.
Disaster Management Department constructed the bridges at Hemerkuti of Holokhana union at a cost of Tk 78 lakh.
A new bridge has collapsed and two others remain unused for long. Photo: UNB
Some residents of the union, including Fazal Ali, Rahmat Mia, Kader and Hazera Begum, said the government has built the bridges for the benefit of people but they could not use it for a single day since its construction.
They alleged that many such bridges are built under rural infrastructure development projects but those ultimately turn out to be useless due to the absence of proper monitoring and follow-up system.
Contacted, District Relief and Rehabilitation Officer Khairul Anam said, “They haven’t received any such complaint. We’ll investigate if we get such an allegation.”