Dhaka, Mar 23 (UNB/IPS) – Authorities are collecting data on international transactions of multinational companies to stop them from siphoning off money from Bangladesh.
Dhaka ranked second in South Asia by Washington-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI) in terms of illicit outflow of money. Some $5.9 billion was siphoned out of the country in 2015 through trade mis-invoicing.
The Transfer Pricing Cell of the National Board of Revenue, the revenue-collecting authority of Bangladesh, has prepared a list of companies and is collecting data on priority basis.
NBR sources said the cell will mainly collect data from the important offices and prepare separate files for each of them.
Transfer price is the price at which divisions of a company transact with each other for goods or services. It usually takes place when two related companies or two subsidiaries controlled by a parent, engage in international trade with each other.
But sometimes, high prices are shown for an imported product or service to evade taxes. This illegal practice is known as 'transfer mispricing'. There are allegations that multinational companies are siphoning off billions of taka in the pretext of transfer pricing.
The NBR now has decided to collect data of multinational companies at its 9th board meeting. It will create separate tax profiles for the companies after completing audit.
On July 2, 2014, the NBR issued rules regarding transfer pricing under a provision incorporated in the Finance Act 2012. The Board took two years for framing the rule.
Some tax officials said it will be a time-consuming task. Initially, 921 companies operating in Bangladesh will be under the purview of their auditing, a senior tax official said.
At the preliminary stage, information about international transactions will be collected and the companies will be given a question paper. The next course of action will be decided after having the answers, the official said.
The Deputy Commissioner of Taxes (DCT) may impose a penalty equivalent to a maximum one percent of the value of each international transaction in case of failure to keep, maintain or provide information, documents or records or comply with the notice.
A penalty of up to Tk 300,000 (USD 3,573) can be imposed by the DCT for failure in giving report by chartered accountants.
Dhaka, Mar 22 (UNB) - Although , this was far from the first time that cricket found itself hobbled by terrorism, or the threat of it at least. Below we recount six such episodes from the past, when the game had to take a backseat to concerns over security. The actual situation on the ground in some of these cases, along with the justifications for calling off a game or tour, are often fiercely contended by the hosts:
March 1996: AUS, WI shun Sri Lanka
It was during the ICC World Cup 1996, which was hosted jointly by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Citing a security threat, Australia refused to go to Sri Lanka, and it was the very first instance of a team refusing to play a World Cup match. Australia were afraid because of a bombing incident which took the place in Colombo one month before the World Cup. Due to the refusal, Australia lost two points.
West Indies did the same act in the same World Cup. They refused to play their group-stage encounter against Sri Lanka and lost two points. They also cited the security threat as their reason to refuse to play in Sri Lanka.
May 2002: NZ return home from Pak
The incident took the place in Karachi when New Zealand were touring Pakistan for a series. Before the second Test, a bomb attack took the place near Pearl-Continental Hotels & Resorts where both of the participating teams were staying. As per the report of the Pakistani media then, cricket teams or nations were not the target of the attack. The attack was on French naval technicians working on a submarine project in Karachi. It left at least 10 French nationals dead.
Right after the attack, the New Zealand series was called off, and they left Pakistan on the same night through the first available flight.
July 2006: South Africa leave Sri Lanka
South Africa cricket team was touring Sri Lanka in 2006 to play a tri-series involving the hosts and India. But during the series, a series of bombings took place in the capital Colombo, and were the reason behind South Africa’s decision to end the series. The African nation appointed a security consultant before the final decision to leave the series. The security consultant said the situation was ‘unacceptable’ for the South African national team. As a result, they left Sri Lanka.
India stayed back in Sri Lanka to play an ODI series. But due to the persistent rain, the series was called off.
August 2008: ICC Champions Trophy postponed (in Pakistan)
Due to another unexpected situation in Pakistan, ICC postponed one of their biggest events, ICC Champions Trophy which was scheduled to be held in September 2008 in Pakistan. Before that, South Africa refused to send their team, Australia, New Zealand and England urged their players to not travel to Pakistan.
The trouble started with a suicide bombing in Islamabad. Right after that, a series of bombings rocked Karachi, and the situation became untenable for cricket.
Sri Lanka targeted in a terror attack in Lahore, March 2009:
Probably, it was the first instance when an international cricket team was the main target of a terror attack, and it happened in Pakistan. The incident took the place near Gaddafi Stadium when the team bus of Sri Lanka cricket team was travelling to the stadium to play the third day of the second Test of the series. Reports said, total members of 12 gunmen attacked the team bus and shoot randomly. The incident left six Pakistan policemen and two civilians dead, and six of Sri Lanka national team players were injured.
Since then, Pakistan is a ‘banned’ country twhen it comes to hosting a Test match. In the last 10 years, Pakistan tried to bring many teams to tour, but they have failed to convince any team.
October 2015: Australia turn their backs
In October 2015, the Australia cricket team suddenly refused to tour Bangladesh citing security threat in the country. They also issued warnings their nationals to tour Bangladesh. However, in July 2017, a terror attack has taken the place in Dhaka- Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan- which left 29 dead including two policemen and five attackers.
However, Australia toured Bangladesh for a two-match Test series in 2017. In the series, they lost a Test to the Tigers which was Bangladesh’s first-ever Test victory against cricket’s most successful nation.
Dhaka, Mar 22 (UNB) — As New Zealand reeled from the worst act of terrorism ever perpetrated on its soil, the world media’s concern was noticeably drawn also towards Bangladesh. The BBC for example, repeatedly called on its correspondent in the Bangladesh capital for updates throughout the day of the attack, that took place over 11,000 kilometres away in Christchurch.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada even called his counterpart Sheikh Hasina in the aftermath of the hate-driven incident that left 50 people dead, almost all shot with semi- automatic weapons, many at close range, while in the act of offering their Jumma prayers at two mosques serving the small but growing Muslim community in New Zealand’s third city.
The reason was that news had spread very quickly, in fact while the attack was still being treated as an ‘unfolding situation’ by NZ police, that the Bangladesh cricket team had been on the scene, i.e. the Al Nur Mosque in Dean’s Avenue, when the Australian-born terrorist started his killing spree. In the vicinity anyway. Seeking out a local mosque to say their Jumma prayers on Fridays while on tour is regulation for the Tigers. On this day too, March 15th, all but two of the squad members had boarded the bus to the mosque, even though they were running slightly late thanks to a team-talk that lingered on a bit.
Fortunately a female motorist near the mosque’s entrance managed to wave them off from entering, and the players grasped enough to turn around first and ask questions later. A video soon appeared on social media platforms as well as Cricinfo, purporting to show some members of the team including Tamim Iqbal, Mehedy Miraz and Mushfiqur Rahim, all visibly shaken and disturbed, making their way on foot through Hagley Park.
The park adjoins the mosque at one end and the Hagley Oval on the other, where the cricketers had been practising earlier and which was also the venue set for the last of a 3-Test series between Bangladesh and New Zealand, scheduled to start the next day.
That wasn’t to be of course. Within hours of the attack, the third Test was called off by mutual consent between the two boards and Bangladesh’s tour cut short in favour of flying home as early as possible. Returning from New Zealand, often called “the edge of the world”, still took the best part of another 36 hours.
Arriving back at Dhaka’s international airport on a late flight last Saturday, the players came off as jolted and distressed, not quite themselves. Mahmudullah Riyad, who had been captaining the Test team in the absence of the injured Shakib al Hasan, simply said: “We have never seen anything like it before.”
Understandably, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) told them to take as many days off as necessary to recover from what could have been a traumatic experience. Some voices though have not relinquished the opportunity to point to the walloping they suffered at the hands of the hosts in every game that was played across all three formats till the abrupt ending, as the likelier source of any lasting trauma.
It’s good for the team that Nazmul Hassan Papon, the extremely hands-on BCB president, has been decidedly more sympathetic towards their situation, announcing: “They are mentally broken. We want them to take rest as many days as they want. I don’t think they should get busy on cricket right now. They went through a horrible situation.”
The cricket supremo has since also floated the necessity of hiring a team psychologist ahead of the 50-overs World Cup, that kicks off in England in June. Senior player Tamim Iqbal has endorsed the idea, saying some of the players may be in need of counseling by professionals to put the horrific scenes they witnessed from their bus, at a distance of just 50 yards from the mosque under attack.
"Had we arrived 3-4 minutes earlier, we would have been inside the mosque. A massive disaster could have occurred. We watched the whole thing from the bus, like a movie, people bleeding as they came out of the mosque,” said Khaled Mashud Pilot, the ex-national team player, in fact captain, who was the team manager during the tour of NZ.
“Later we realised that the shooter could inflict more damage if they found us inside the bus all at once, so we took a collective decision to leave the bus through the back gate," Pilot said. They then walked back through Hagley Park.
Most of the players took the BCB up on its offer to get away from the game. Two of the younger members of the squad - all-rounder Mehedy Miraz and Mustafizur ‘Fizz’ Rahman - decided to tie the knot. Some of the players however chose to deal with the situation by slotting straight back into cricket, making themselves available for the ongoing Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League. Those who did found it helpful to take their minds off the horrific situation that had unfolded at such close proximity. Although to be clear, at no point were the players themselves
in the line of fire or under attack in any way.
Yet questions have also been raised over the lack of an advance security team accompanying the squad, that could stake out locations they planned to visit and vet them for security beforehand. This has not been lost upon the BCB president, who at a press briefing following the terrorist attack revealed they had already requested the New Zealand Cricket Board to look into why there were no security personnel with the group going for the Jumma prayer.
Papon has since pledged to demand assurances on security from foreign cricket boards when they invite the Bangladesh team in future to tour their countries, similar to what they themselves demand at times before setting foot here.
“Those who provide us (required security), we will go and play. Otherwise, it’s not possible for us to go there and play,” he said. The message from the BCB is a simple one: better safe than sorry.
Sylhet, Mar 22 (UNB) – With the high rate of population growth allied to increasing economic activity in Bangladesh’s growing urban centres, the number of vehicles on the roads is also growing exponentially.
The rise in the number of vehicles is far outpacing two related facilities: the amount of road on which these vehicles are meant to ply, and spaces in and around the towns and cities where they can be parked. While the state is seen to take some initiatives at least when it comes to the former, the concept of dedicated parking spaces has just never caught on in Bangladesh, and the importance of provisioning them seems lost on policymakers.
But three students of a private university here may just have come up with the so-called ‘killer app’ for dedicated parking spaces to take off in Bangladesh. They have devised an automated modern car parking system which will minimise the space required for parking cars, or to put it another way, maximize the use of the space available for parking.
NabenduDeyAnik Mia and Rakibul Islam of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE) department of Leading University have devised an automated parking system under the supervision of their two teachers -- Associate Professor Rumel MS Rahman Pir, head of the department, and Lecturer MdNiazMurshedulHaque -- which they claimed is the first in Bangladesh.
The parking system will be fully controlled by programmable logic control (PLC) without anyone’s help, the students have said recently, adding that many vehicles can be parked together in a small space under the system.
How the system will work
A driver will place his/her fingerprint in a specific place if they want to park the vehicle under the system. The door of the parking zone will open if there is enough space for parking.
The driver will keep the vehicle on the plate of the parking zone and come back. Then the plate will automatically take the vehicle to the vacant space and release it there.
Similarly, when the driver will come back for his vehicle, he will have to identify himself through his fingerprints and the system will match him to his car if it’s in the system, and the plate will bring it to him.
The parking system designed by the three private university students is suited to a three-storey one. Four cars can be parked on each floor.
However, the number handled by the system can be increased many times over depending on what is desired or required, the inventive trio said.
Talking about the reasons behind devising the automated car parking system, the students said as the number of people in towns and cities is increasing, so the vehicles. However, there is no enough space for parking those vehicles.
As a result, vehicles are kept haphazardly on roads which creates traffic jam, eating up both time and fuel and costing the country economically.
Keeping this in mind, they have invented the automated parking system after extensive research of six months, said Nabendu, Anik and Rakibul.
Earlier, three other students of the university -- ShafiqulAlam, JasimUddin and MdZihad Al-Sabah -- designed a special electric wheelchair with their absolute brilliance to ease the worries of the physically-challenged people, by further reducing their dependence on able-bodied helpers.
People with disabilities can operate the wheelchair autonomously, with just the use of a single finger.
Dhaka, Mar 22 (UNB) - The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has formed a committee to collect year-wise data on the incomes of social media platforms and search engines from the digital advertisements of local firms to bring those under VAT net.
Besides, the NBR is collecting organisation-based monthly data on how much money was transacted abroad for the advertisement purpose and how much Value Added Tax (VAT) and income tax were collected in the last five years.
The decision was taken in a recent meeting of NBR’s special committee.
The meeting decided to send a letter to the central bank to get the monthly and organisation-based data of the last five years for payment on digital advertisement and transaction of money for the purpose, and collection of VAT and income tax from this pocket.
It also decided to co-opt a representative of the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) in the special committee.
From the meeting, the NBR decided to send letters to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to get data about the published digital advertisement of mobile phone operators, Google, Whatsapp, Yahoo, Amazon, Youtube, facebook and IMO and their incomes from Bangladeshi advertisements.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Bank recently asked all the banks to be strict on the payment procedure and deduct 15 percent VAT on overseas payments for online purchases and adverts on digital platforms as a measure to collect VAT on payments for advertisements published or services taken from digital and social media platforms.
The latest move from the Banking Regulations and Policy Department of the central bank came following a request from the NBR on deducting VAT on payments for internet services, advertisement on digital platforms and other related services received from abroad.
Most multinational companies, including mobile phone operators, fast-moving consumer goods companies, ride-sharing and e-commerce platforms and other digital service companies spend hugely on advertisements.
The spending is increasing rapidly and some digital agencies have already sprung up to take care of this business segment.
On April 12, 2018, the High Court ordered the government to realise appropriate tax, VAT and other charges from the revenues earned by different digital platforms like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Yahoo and YouTube.
In response to a writ petition, the court also asked the government to form a special committee to assess the amount of their financial transactions in recent years and submit an assessment report by June 25.
The European Union also plans to slap a new tax on digital firms. The European commission placed a proposal on March 21 last year to collect 3 percent tax from large tech companies if they make money from user data or digital advertising in a country, regardless of their brick-and-mortar presence.
In November 2017, the Newspaper Owners' Association of Bangladesh (NOAB) sent a letter to the finance ministry, the central bank and the NBR voicing its grievance over the rise in digital advertisements.
Facebook and Google are earning a huge amount of money from digital advertisements but they are not paying any tax, the association said.
The two tech giants have no office in Bangladesh, which allows them to remain out of the purview of Bangladesh's laws. But it is a requirement that every company that wants to do business in any country complies with the local laws.
To bring the incomes of the tech companies under the tax net, the NBR slapped a 15 percent withholding tax this fiscal year on 'advertisement income or digital marketing'. In addition, a 15 percent VAT is to be paid by the advertisers on the bills served by digital companies.