The government has chalked out a series of programmes to enter a new era of taxation from 2020-21 FY in the run-up to achieving Vision 2041 and reaching the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
"We must gear up revenue mobilisation and streamline the financial sector of the country," a senior official at the Finance Ministry said.
To this effect, he said, the government has no other choice but to set up a strong, functional and transparent Income Tax Department.
Online Tax, Tax Return submission
The government has already taken an initiative to modernise Bangladesh Integrated Tax or BiTAX system of the tax department involving digital tax payment as well as online tax returns submission facilities.
To popularise online tax payment and online tax return submission, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has introduced a tax rebate of Tk 2,000 to all taxpayers who will file their income tax returns online for the first time.
"I hope this will highly encourage the taxpayers to submit their income tax returns online, which will in turn accelerate the process of digital transformation of the Income Tax Department," he said in his budget speech.
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Tax Department to get Access to Govt Database
According to budget documents, plans have been undertaken to give the tax department access to the database of different government, autonomous and private organisations through system integration and system interoperability.
"Special priority will be attached to issues related to virtual economy, international taxation and auditing," it added.
Establishing Tax Academy
The Finance Ministry official mentioned that the government is also planning to increase the number of taxpayers by making the ongoing survey programme more intensive and technology-supported.
"Measures have also been taken to establish a tax academy per excellence in the country to enhance professional skills of taxmen," he said.
He said formulation of a new business development friendly and modern Income Tax Act is also underway.
"Programmes have also been taken to make people compliant to tax matters."
Read Also: Budget ambitious, but implementable: PM
Policy to Reward Tax Payers
The budget document stated that a policy will be formulated to recognise and reward the tax officers who will demonstrate extraordinary professional feats, including identification of new taxpayers and mobilisation of revenue.
The Finance Ministry official said legal changes arising out of the new amendments and implementation of these amendments will enhance the capacity of the tax department to discharge the responsibility vested on it.
As a result, he said, the pace of revenue mobilisation will be accelerated, and this will play a positive and effective role in achieving the overall development goals.
Revenue Collection Target
The total revenue collection for the proposed budget for 2020-21 fiscal is estimated to be Tk 378,000 crore where the NBR will contribute Tk 3,30,000 crore.
The revenue from non-NBR sources was estimated at Tk 15,000 crore, while non-tax revenue at Tk 33,000 crore.
Of the grand amount for the NBR, Tk 103,945 crore will come from income, profit and capital tax, while Tk 125,162 crore will be contributed by VAT, supplementary tax will provide Tk 57,815 crore, Tk 37,807 crore will come from import duty, Tk 55 crore from export duty, Tk 3,686 crore from the excise duty and Tk 1,530 crore as other taxes.
Billal Mir, a young mango grower who has achieved prosperity by producing chemical-free mangoes at Charbagjuri in Lohagara upazila of Narail district, is now an example for the youth of his neighbourhood how to become self-reliant.
Officials at the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), Narail said Billal has set an example how to grow different varieties of mangoes alongside cultivating other crops.
The mangoes from Billal’s orchard are supplied to other districts, including Dhaka, in addition to meeting local demand.
Talking to the UNB correspondent, Billal said he got involved in mango farming 14 years ago by planting 1,000 saplings of different varieties and then brought 15 acres of land under mango farming after taking it on lease.
“Now, I've 5000 mango trees, including that of some high-yielding varieties like ‘Chosa’, ‘Guti’, ‘Gopalbhog’, ‘Himsagar’, ‘Lengra’, ‘Haribhanga’, ‘Amrupali’, ‘Fazli’ and ‘Ashwini’ on my land,” he said.
“I never count any loss in my business but this year, 800 maunds of mangoes worth Tk 20 lakh have got damaged due to the cyclone ‘Amphan,” said Billal.
Billal said he has already spent Tk 25 lakh on maintenance, including nurturing and labour cost, and expects to sell mangoes worth Tk 50 lakh.
Nine workers remain engaged throughout the year in maintenance of Billal's mango orchard and he hires more workers during the peak season.
Billal started selling mangoes on June 9 and continue it for a month.
Traders, mostly from Dhaka, purchase mangoes from Billal as those are free from chemicals.
He also cultivate paddy, maize, and pulse and banana on another 30 acres of land he took on lease.
Many people from different parts of the district come to visit the mango orchard of Billal to see how a small farmer has changed his fortune by cultivating mangoes.
Chinmoy Roy, deputy director at DAE, Narail, said, “Billal has become a role model in the area by producing many varieties of mango. He's also playing a role in producing safe fruits applying biotechnology and avoiding the use of harmful pesticides.”
With the arrival of the rainy season, the familiar hazard of waterlogging across the capital is showing signs of returning but Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Fazle Noor Taposh is determined to not allow that.
The DSCC mayor said authorities are working to find a permanent solution to the waterlogging problem. In an interview with UNB, he outlined other aspects of city management.
“We are looking for a permanent solution to the problem of water stagnation in DSCC during the rainy season...urban planners working with us have been guided to formulate action plans,” Taposh said adding that a large ensemble team of eminent planners will formulate and implement a master plan to eliminate waterlogging.
He noted that although many of the water bodies have been filled up in the city corporation area, there are still some that can be recovered. “The canals and reservoirs that still exist, if we can maintain their flow and clean them properly as well as ensure long-term conservation, it will help us to reduce waterlogging.”
The DSCC is marking those said water bodies to start the restoration works. Taposh noted that some of them are occupied by various organisations.
“We are taking legal preparations to take them back under control and we will keep them clean because we have noticed that most of the outside organisations work without any accountability,” he told UNB and added that instead of implementing recovery projects they just waste money.
The DSCC Mayor opined that if reservoirs can be cleaned properly, then waterlogging in Dhaka can be reduced by 70 percent. He mentioned that the DSCC will undertake the old Buriganga channel rescue project soon.
In terms of waste management, the city corporation is undergoing massive change, said the mayor. He confirmed that waste management centres will be built in 75 wards across DSCC.
“The workers will collect wastes and dump them for 12 hours every day from 6 am to 6 pm,” he said.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines is all set to start operating direct flights from Dhaka to Toronto and from there to New York by Air Canada from October this year.
“We’ll start operating flights in the winter schedule according to the Air Agreement between Bangladesh and Canada,” Mokabbir Hossain, managing director and CEO of Biman, told UNB.
There are two schedules in international routes – Winter and Summer, he said adding that the winter schedule starts in October.
If passengers want to go to New York from Bangladesh, they can go from Toronto, said Hossain adding, “In that case, we’ll charge the passengers for a second destination to New York.”
According to an agreement with Air Canada, they will take Biman passengers to any destination from Toronto. “Biman will carry passengers from Dhaka to Toronto only,” Hossian said.
Asked about the number of flights in a week on Dhaka-Toronto route, Biman’s MD said according to the Air Agreement, minimum three flights will be operated.
Flights to Japan soon
Biman will operate flights to Japan soon as there is an existing agreement between Bangladesh and Japan in this regard, Hossain said.
Flights to Tokyo will start when Japan opens the international route, he said. “We’ve already published advertisements in Japanese newspapers for appointing General Sales Agent (GSA) there. GSAs will be appointed soon.”
Once flights start operating from Dhaka to Japan, passengers can go to New Zealand, Australia, Korea and other countries from there by other airlines easily, he hoped.
“We’re planning to make an agreement with Japan Airlines for carrying Bangladeshi passengers to other countries from Tokyo,” he added.
Biman all set to resume flights
Asked about the exact date of flight inauguration on Dhaka-Toronto route, Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry Senior Secretary Mohibul Haque said flight operation will begin after October 15.
Biman CEO Hossain said flight operations on Dhaka to Delhi, and Kolkata were stopped due to Covid-19 pandemic, but Biman flights from Dhaka to Chennai will be launched if India permits use.
GSA will be appointed in Chennai soon, he added.
In addition, steps will be taken to start flight operations from Dhaka to Guangzhou in China and Male in the Maldives after the coronavirus pandemic, said Hossain.
He also informed that Biman is all set to resume its flight operations on other international routes where it operated flights before Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, chartered flights with different countries including European nations are already in operation.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines stopped flight operation on March 30 thanks to Covid-19 pandemic and resumed on Dhaka-London-Dhaka route on June 21.
Two more scheduled flights will start operation on Dubai and Abu Dhabi routes July 6 and 7 respectively after three months of suspension.
As the fear of possible dengue and chikungunya outbreak has gripped the residents of Dhaka amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has assured all of taking effective programmes to deal with the problem.
"From now on, larvae checking will start at 9 am and continue till 1 pm every day. Eight people will work in each ward...mosquito elimination through chemical spray will continue for four hours till 6 pm," DSCC Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh told UNB.
The schedule of larvae checking and chemical spray has been changed and these two tasks will be continued throughout the year on a daily basis.
He noted that these tasks were limited to just two hours every day but from now on city corporation employees will work eight hours a day throughout the year.
“We hope that the activities we have undertaken will prevent the spread of dengue. This time the mosquito repellent we’re using is of good quality,” he added.
He said the public will reap the benefits of their timely and necessary approach in eliminating mosquitoes.
“People are now aware of the places where work of killing mosquitoes is going on and they can even supervise it by themselves. I’m informed from the field level about it and optimistic that people will reap the benefits,” Taposh said.
Mosquitoes cannot be killed with insecticides alone, Taposh said adding that DSCC has undertaken an integrated mosquito eradication programme that is used worldwide.
He noted that alongside using repellants, work is in progress to clean various waterbodies and sewers spread across the city corporation areas.
“We are cleaning the waterbodies so that water can’t remain stagnant. Mosquitoes will not be able to lay eggs and spread even if the water flows,” he told UNB.
He also mentioned that a project is underway for farming duck and telapia in the waterbodies.
“This fish (tilapia) eats mosquito eggs. Fish will be caught using nets twice a month which will give us a two-fold benefit. When the net will be pulled, we will get fish, and the water will keep flowing, destroying dengue larvae and eggs,” he added.
Additionally, there are about 150 kilometers of sewers spread throughout the DSCC. “We will clean the sewers twice a month...we have already started an open waste management work.”
The DSCC mayor emphasised the continuation of the projects, and said those will not be cancelled just after a brief period of exercise.
“This is a dynamic process and it will continue,” he said.
Global burden of dengue
The incidence of dengue has grown dramatically around the world in recent decades. A vast majority of cases are asymptomatic or mild and self-managed, and hence the actual numbers of dengue cases are under-reported, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The number of dengue cases reported to WHO increased over 8 fold over the last two decades, from 505,430 cases in 2000, to over 2.4 million in 2010, and 4.2 million in 2019. The reported deaths between the year 2000 and 2015 increased from 960 to 4032.
Before 1970, only nine countries had experienced severe dengue epidemic. The disease is now pendemic in more than 100 countries in the WHO regions of Africa, Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asia and the Western Pacific.
The America, South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions are the most seriously affected, with Asia representing - 70% of the global burden of disease.
The largest number of dengue cases ever reported globally was in 2019. All the regions were affected, and dengue transmission was recorded in Afghanistan for the first time.
Dengue in Bangladesh
Bangladesh had a massive dengue outbreak last year when 101,354 people were hospitalised. Of them, 101,037 made full recovery.
According to official figures, the mosquito-borne disease killed 179 people last year.
In order to protect the city dwellers from dengue, a special clean-up operation to control Aedes mosquito was launched in all 54 wards of Dhaka North City Corporation on June 6.
Read Also: 3 dengue cases reported in 24 hrs: DGHS
Dhaka South City Corporation mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh on June 7 launched a year-long mosquito crush activities in 73 wards.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives on May 14 allocated Tk 30.63 crore for the city corporations and the municipalities to fight coronavirus and dengue.