Govt to scrap land prices to stop money laundering: Muhith

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Dhaka, May 13: The government has decided to scrap the existing land pricing system as it paves the way of money laundering from the country.

During a pre-budget discussion with the Economic Reporters Forum (ERF) at the Finance Ministry’s conference room at Bangladesh Secretariat in Dhaka on Saturday, finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said that there should be no land price in the country. It would be an effective measure to check money laundering from the country.

There are various reasons for laundering money from the country and the existing land prices are one of the major reasons behind it, he said.

“We will scrap the land pricing system and market will determine the land prices at different parts of the country,” he said.

Currently, land ministry fixes the mauza-based prices of land on regular basis.

But the actual price of land is much higher, Muhith said.

Such differences between market price and government-set price create black money, he said adding that land sellers cannot use the money in the country. So they tend to launder their money, he said.

The Finance Minister said the government is going to take measures so that expatriates can send their remittances without any charges.

Initiatives are being taken to increase the remittance flow, the minister said, adding, “We urge the expatriates to send their remittances through proper channels.”

The size of the next national budget of fiscal 2017-18 will not be more than Tk 4,00,000 crore, he mentioned.

Referring to the VAT, Muhith said the government would lose about Tk 4,000 crore if VAT is reduced by one per cent only. “The rate of VAT will be decided after a meeting with the prime minister on Sunday,” he said.

Finance Secretary Hedayetullah Al Mamoon, Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir and NBR Chairman Md Nojibur Rahman, among others, were present at the pre-budget discussion.