VAT net expanded, not hiked: Muhith

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Dhaka, June 2: Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith has said price of goods and services will not increase owing to the imposition of 15 per cent VAT (value added tax) from the next fiscal.

“The VAT rate has not been increased in the proposed budget of fiscal 2017-18, rather the VAT net has been expanded,” he said. “Small and medium-scale traders would pay VAT. Price of goods would not increase if VAT is imposed at the rate of 15 per cent, because many goods have been spared from VAT.”

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith addressing a post-budget press conference at city’s Osmani Memorial Auditorium on Friday.

Muhith was addressing a post-budget press conference at Osmani Memorial Auditorium in the capital on Friday.

He said excise duty on bank deposits has been raised to “bring equality into the economy.”

Journalists attending the post-budget press conference said that the finance minister that he had proposed in the budget to slash money in the name of excise duty. Besides, money get disappeared if invested into share market. So, where do people would keep their money?

Responding to the queries of journalists, Muhith said excise duty hike was proposed to “bring equality to the economy.”

“We’re not charging any excise duty on bank balance up to Tk 1 lakh. If anyone has money above this amount, we can describe them as well-off though there is no definition of rich. However, we have proposed excise duty on bank balances more than Tk 1 lakh. Bank account holders will not have to face any difficulty to pay the excise duty,” the Finance Minister said.

“Those who have more than Tk 1 lakh deposit with banks, they are not poor in our socio-economic context. So, he or she doesn’t have to face any difficulty to pay excise duty,” Muhith said.

Responding to a question about begging, the Finance Minister said that the number of beggar is generally less in Bangladesh. Some people have taken the profession of begging though they are financially solvent. “They will never cease this profession,” he said.

As a journalist asked the finance minister that prices of rice in the market had gone beyond the purchasing power of people, Muhith said, “Prices of rice have increased somewhat. We don’t deny it. Onrush of hilly water that led to a widespread flood in seven districts is responsible for rice price hike in the market. But, we have enought stock of rice. The prices will come down at a tolerable level soon.”

Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal and State Minister for Finance and Planning MA Mannan were present along with the Finance Minister on the podium.

Besides, Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir, Senior Secretary to the Ministry of Finance Hedayetulla Al Mamun, NBR Chairman Nojibur Rahman, ERD Secretary Kazi Shafiqul Azam amd Planning Secretary Md Ziaul Islam were present on another podium to assist the Finance Minister.

Prime Minister’s Political Adviser HT Imam, Prime Minister’s Economic Adviser Mashiur Rahman, Principal Secretary Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, Prime Minister’s Office Secreatry Suraiya Begum, and other senior government officials were present at the press conference.