Finance minister under fire of businessmen over VAT law

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Dhaka, April 30: Finance minister Abul Mal Abdul Muhit on Sunday was under fire of businessmen over new VAT law. The most influential minister of the government remained silent after being attacked by them with discomfort and frustration.

The incident happened at the 38th meeting of consulting committee of National Board of Revenue on Sunday at capital’s Bangabandhu International Conference Center organized by NBR and FBCCI.

One of FBCCI’s vice-president demanded introduction of package VAT, as well as reduce VAT, after opposing 15% VAT in new VAT law. He also threatened to go on a demonstration like the students organized several months ago.

The business leader said, “We do not intent to go on in any movement like the students did. Earlier we organized demonstration and we were assured but no solution has been made.”

“FBCCI have arranged 18 meetings regarding VAT, but there was no outcomes. We were not being trained. We have to go on some kind of demonstration under such situation.”

At that point before he could complete his speech the finance minister intervened, “There are around 1lac small shops but only 32 thousands of them pay VAT. What the rest do?”

“If businessmen arrange movement, the government have no other option but to suppress it. We will deploy law enforcers to suppress any kind of demonstration.”

After hearing the speech, the businessmen present became agitated and some of them were heard to say: “Well, we will arrange demonstration, if you can suppress us. And you have such intension force us out of the meeting here, why have we even been invited?”

They also opposed finance minister’s statement regarding this.

As situation was going out of control, Muhit himself stopped talking. However, though senior FBCCI leaders including its president were present, none took initiatives to handle such unpleasant situation.

Only, FBCCI vice president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin requested the attendees to remain calm.

Later, NBR chairman said, “This is not a place to threat for any kind of demonstration. There are certain languages to be used here. We should be aware of that.”

Finance minister Muhit previously used such unofficial languages against businessmen and other trades in various platforms. However, he was not criticized for those directly except today.