The parliament today passed the Finance Bill 2019 with some changes in value-added tax (VAT) and in the policy of capital market and handloom industry.
For the first time in the history of the country, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina moved the Bill on request of Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal.
The finance minister, who has been suffering from dengue fever, made the request to Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury as he is unable to move the Bill in the parliament due to his illness.
Taking part in the general discussion of the proposed budget, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the government has fixed 2030 for achieving the unattainable development goals (SDGs) while 2041 to make the country a developed one.
“For this and to implement our election manifesto, this pro-people, pro-development and balanced budget will act as an effective tool,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina also president of the ruling Awami League said it is needed to have a prosperous capital market for a prosperous economy.
This budget has many incentives for the capital market and it will be expanded through implementation of these incentives, Hasina said.
PM said it was informed that as per the demand of the Bangladesh Bank, the listed companies cannot give the cash dividend due to increasing the paid-up capital. In this regard, Hasina proposed that listed companies will give the same percentage of cash and stock dividend.
If the percentage of the stock dividend remains higher than 10 per cent tax will be imposed on the announced stock dividend.
She said that the government, in the proposed budget, enforced 15 per cent tax, if any company’s retained earnings and reserve exceeds 50 per cent of its paid-up capital.
“But the businesses raised their objection saying that accumulated profit usually invested in companies, its expansion and development, capital is needed for expansion and reform of the local and foreign companies,” she said.
But she said that paying of profit to the investors have to remain in mind.
Hasina said that listed companies can transfer 70 per cent maximum of the tax net profit for retained earnings and reserve. It has to give the rest of 30 per cent as stock and cash dividend. If any company fails to do so, 10 per cent tax will be imposed on the transferred retained earnings and reserve.
She proposed that businessmen providing VAT at lower than 15 per cent rate will be able to claim rebate which was not proposed in the original proposal that placed in the Parliament on June 13.
In the proposed budget, the government proposes the imposition of 5 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 10 per cent VAT on specific goods and services, apart from the standard VAT rate of 15 per cent. In addition, it wants to impose a specific tax on some services and products such as key construction material rod and newsprint. It has also suggested continuing the existing 2 per cent and 2.4 per cent VAT at the trading stage of petroleum and pharmaceuticals. It also0 said that businesspeople will not be able to avail themselves of the input tax credit if they pay less than 15 per cent VAT.
To protect the local handloom industry, the prime minister proposed to impose Tk 4 as VAT on per kilogram thread which was five per cent in the proposed budget.
She also said that the government will bring logical changes in the import duties of papers that do not produce in the country.
She said that everyone will be benefitted by the budget and this budget will help us to go forward with continuing the pace of ongoing development to build a happy, develop and a prosperous country.
Hasina also said that the government has achieved the quality of upgrading Bangladesh into a middle-income country by successfully implementing the ‘Vision 2021’ and it is heading forward to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and build a developed country by 2041.
Opposition bench members Fakhrul Imam, Pir Fazlur Rahman, Kazi Firoze Rashid, begum Rawshan Ara Mannan, M Rustam Ali Farazi, Mokabbir Khan, Rumeen Farhana proposed publishing the bill for eliciting public opinions.
In response, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina hinted that BNP has deposited money in Swiss Bank which the party collected through nomination business in the December 30, 2018, national election.
“We have information that BNP gave the nomination to 692 candidates in 300 seats in the 2018 election. More than three or two candidates were given nomination against each constituency. Where did they deposit that money got from nomination business? You will get the idea of statistics of Swiss Bank account if you look into the matter,” she said.
Speaking on her proposal, BNP lawmaker Rumeen Farhana said the proposed budget is not pro-people as it is aimed at making rich people richer and to make poor people poorer. She also mentioned that Bangladeshis’ deposits in Swiss banks increased a lot in recent times.
Pointing to the lawmakers’ criticism over the government’s failure to control loan default culture, Sheikh Hasina said it was the military dictator Ziaur Rahman who grabbed the state power and introduced military rule in the country, started the loan default culture.
The prime minister said the loan default culture must have stopped had the democratic government remain in power. “We have already taken some measures and also taking measures at present to stop loan default,” she added.
On the budget proposal of giving scope to whitening black money, Sheikh Hasina said her government will certainly take measures if corruption increases through giving this scope.
The prime minister moved the bill which was passed by voice vote.
The bill was introduced in the House on June 13.
The House accepted some amendments of the Finance Bill, 2019 brought by M Shahiduzzaman Sarkar, Mujibul Huq, Pir Fazlur Rahman, Moshiur Rahman Ranga, Shahiduzzaman Sarkar, Abdus Shahid, Israfil Alam, Kazi Firoze Rashid, Harunur Rashid, M Rustam Ali farazi, and Begum Rawshan Ara Mannan. These amendments were mainly done for clerical errors.
Later, the proposals for publishing the bill for eliciting public opinions and amendments were rejected by voice vote.