Treasury Secretary AHM Mustafa Kamal announced yesterday that the government may consider lowering corporate tax rates for listed companies in the upcoming budget.
“We are gradually lowering all kinds of taxes every year. We have cut the budget to some extent over the past year,” he said, adding that they plan to slowly lower taxes, be it for individuals or for companies.
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After a pre-budget discussion with well-known economists, he spoke about a virtual press conference.
Experts suggested expanding the size of the stimulus packages and extending the associated loan repayment deadlines amid the spread of the pandemic, the minister said.
They also called for the involvement of people who have not yet been able to take out loans under the packages.
“We will inform the prime minister and she will make a decision,” said Kamal.
According to sources at the meeting, economists suggested a greater allocation in the health sector, particularly to improve tertiary and medium-sized services.
The minister said they had a plan to increase budget allocations to the health and agriculture sectors and to take steps to ensure quality service in this area.
Regarding moves to legalize black money, economists said the discouraged people who properly and regularly pay taxes had informed the minister.
He said there was no black money as it was just money that for some reason had not been declared.
“There are two problems with tax evasion and tax avoidance. Tax evasion is a crime and if someone evades paying taxes we can hold them accountable,” he said.
And if someone benefits from the legal framework, it is not a crime but avoidance, the minister reasoned, adding that avoidance is acceptable and not circumvention.
“We have to stop the sources that create undeclared money. It can’t happen in a day, but we will be able to stop it gradually,” he said.
Atiur Rahman, former governor of the Bangladesh Bank, said many things are being done for people who take out loans and that they can even get access to the stimulus packages.
But nothing is done for those who deposit money, he said.
According to sources, the renowned economist Prof. Rehman Sobhan expressed doubts as to whether recommendations made by experts in such pre-budget discussions were taken note of.
He said they were never informed whether their opinions or recommendations were taken into account when the budget was drawn up.
Finance Minister Abdur Rouf Talukder said that in the future they would inform economists which of their recommendations were taken up.
The secretary also asked the panellists to send them their recommendations in writing.