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Bangladesh - 4 days ago

Legalizing black money conflicts with anti-graft policy of AL government

Staff Correspondent: The policy of ‘zero tolerance against corruption’ is one of the 14 priorities in the proposed budget for the financial year 2024-25. At the same time, the opportunity to whiten black money has been kept in the budget. Various organizations including TIB, CPD, political figures and economic analysts consider it a ‘controversial’ decision. They are indicating that the loss is more than the gain through this.
Finance Minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali has proposed a budget of Tk 797,000 crore in the National Parliament on June 6 for the financial year 2024-25. The revenue target has been set at Tk 5 lakh 41 thousand crores. The finance minister has mentioned that the undisclosed money will be legalized in the proposed budget.
In this context in the budget speech, he said that it is necessary to keep the economy of the country dynamic in the changing economic situation due to the ongoing global crisis. In order to generate and sustain effective demand in the economy, we need to generate more revenue to support adequate government spending. At the same time, the economic activities in the private sector should be kept dynamic.
The introduction of Data Verification System (DVS) has created complications in the disclosure of undisclosed income and assets of various companies. Moreover, due to some unavoidable reasons including the ignorance of the taxpayer, there may be errors in showing the acquired assets in the return filing,’ said the finance minister.
In this case, taxpayers will be given an opportunity to correct this error in their income tax returns. With a view to increasing the flow of money into the mainstream economy, the finance minister proposed to add a clause on tax incentives in the Income Tax Act. According to it, ‘Notwithstanding the existing law of the land, no authority can raise any question if a taxpayer pays fixed tax rate for immovable property like flat, apartment and land and 15 per cent tax on other resources including cash.’
Hasanul Haque Inu President of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, a partner of the ruling coalition, told that the policy of zero tolerance against corruption is in conflict with the laundering of black money. The proposal to whiten black money is to protect the criminal. Which will keep the new criminals or the criminalization of the economy active. It will not do any good for the economy. Such a decision has not worked in the past, nor will it now.
Chairman of the Tariqat Federation, another member of the ruling alliance, Syed Najibul Bashar Maizbhandari said that the opportunity to whiten black money is in conflict with the policy of zero tolerance against corruption. Unquestionable opportunity to whiten black money is kept directly. Again, this opportunity has been kept for buying land and flats. The corrupt who are caught today will be freed tomorrow. Corruption is being indirectly encouraged through this. The government is doing this to bring back the smuggled money, let’s see if the money comes or not!
However, Awami League presidium member Advocate Kamrul Islam told that the NBR has earned a huge amount of money earlier due to the opportunity to whiten black money. Black money income was not included in the tax. Many people think that it is not right to give this opportunity. Now the thing to be seen is how much NBR earns. It will tell if it is effective or not.
SK Shikder, president of Gana Azadi League, a partner of the ruling coalition, told that it can’t be said to be contradictory in all cases. Also contradictory in some cases. Conflict with those who earn money by corruption. However, legal money becomes illegal due to rules, which are not conflicting.
There are various explanations of black money in our country. Some are outright illegal, others blackened by loopholes in the rules, but legal to the owner. For example, as a result of fixing the Mauza rate in land registration, a huge amount of money from the seller becomes illegal. Actually, it is not illegal. There are various explanations for this.
He also said that capital is added to our country’s economy from various aspects. Now it is better if you can add some money with discount to the ongoing working capital.
Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Iftekharuzzaman said that corruption and acquisition of illegal wealth is being encouraged by the government by guaranteeing such an opportunity to whiten black money. Simply put, the government is inviting citizens to become corrupt by guaranteeing impunity. The development of depth and scale of corruption and immorality is normalized under the lame logic of raising revenue. It is expected that this process of licensing corruption will stop forever.
Against the opportunity to make black money white with only 15 percent tax, the provision of maximum 30 percent tax on honest taxpayers is termed as ‘discriminatory and unconstitutional’. Zaman said, the matter is discriminatory against a citizen, and at the same time it amounts to showing thumbs up to Article 20 (2) of the Constitution.
He said that the dream of collecting expected revenue by making moral compromises in this process will never be realized in short or long term. A big example of which is that two years ago, only 10 percent tax was given to legalize undisclosed money. But there was no response. Even if given the opportunity to bring back the smuggled money from the country, no one took that opportunity. Therefore, when such an opportunity comes in the budget, it is not unreasonable to ask questions about whose interests are being kept.
Fahmida Khatun, executive director of the research institute Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said in a reaction that the opportunity to whiten black money with a 15 percent tax can’t be morally supported. This does not establish social justice. Such steps are taken for special groups. But we don’t see the results. There is absolutely no sign of a wave of black money being whitened or a lot of money being returned.

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