NBR investigation unvailed
Staff Correspondent: Four mobile phone operators – Grameenphone, Robi, Banglalink and Airtel – have been given illegal VAT benefits of around Tk 153 crore by the collecting agency VAT LTU (Large Taxpayer Unit). Interest of Tk 152.80 crore was levied on the companies for failing to pay the VAT liability on time. VAT LTU exempts companies from collecting it. The investigation committee formed on the instructions of NBR said in the report that it is not excusable under the VAT Act. This information is known from the source of NBR.
According to sources, Wahida Rahman Chowdhury was in charge of Commissioner of VAT LTU at the time of giving this illegal benefit. He is now on retired leave (PRL). As the entire onus falls on him, NBR has constituted another high-powered committee with one member and two commissioners for further investigation. The committee has been asked to report by December 14.
According to the investigation report, the VAT LTU claimed that mobile phone operators Grameenphone, Robi, Banglalink and Airtel evaded a large amount of VAT between 2016 and 2019. In view of this, there is a transaction between the two parties. At one stage, the companies agreed to pay Tk 189.74 crore of the revenue levied on allegations of evasion through alternative dispute resolution or ADR. Later they paid that VAT. But due to non-deposit of the claimed VAT on time, interest is applied against it to the tune of Tk 152.81 crore.
According to the report, it was under the jurisdiction of then Commissioner Wahida Rahman Chowdhury, but she did not collect it; Instead, he gave huge revenue concessions to companies by arguing the opposite. This has resulted in loss of government revenue.
In this regard, convener of the investigation committee and additional commissioner of VAT LTU, Sadhan Kumar Kundu told Daily Industry, “We have given the report. Our task was to see why the interest charged on VAT was waived in all 16 files of the companies. We four members reviewed it in the light of VAT Act. It shows that the interest has been waived. How many arguments have been given in favor of waiver? In our view, the arguments for exemption of VAT interest are not acceptable. There is no provision for waiver of interest in law. We think that since there is no provision of interest waiver in the law, it will be collected naturally.
When Commissioner Wahida Rahman’s statement on the illegal waiver of interest on VAT was called several times between 5 pm and 6 pm on Saturday, both her mobile phone numbers were found to be switched off.
Grameenphone Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Yasir Azman told, “NBR is not known to have waived interest in this way.” It is settled in court or through ADR. It can’t be said without seeing the details. If through ADR, then it is by mutual consent of both parties. However, no one has yet contacted us regarding the revenue due.
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