Bangladesh demands Tax Transparency
As a part of the Global Week of Action for Tax Justice, more than 20 rights based civil society organizations including farmers and labor organizations led by EquityBD organized a human chain in Bangladesh to demand Tax Transparency of MNCs (Multinational Companies). They also demanded to publish a white paper on illicit finance flow and strategies to recovery from different Tax Heavens countries like Malaysia, Switzerland Canada. The right groups criticize the government for imposing VAT expansion and her foreign resource mobilization planning which created debt burden and peoples plight in their livelihood, instead of stopping illicit finance flows.
The organizers talked about the new Tax Justice Network report on Financial Secrecy Index (FSI). The report revealed the role of 92 countries in maintaining financial secrecy and the top ten countries are Switzerland, Hong Kong, USA, Singapore, Cayman Island-UK, Luxemburg, Lebanon, Germany, Bahrain and Dubai. The developed countries are paying $135 billion to poor countries as foreign aid in exchange of $1-$1.6 trillion as illicit financial flow to the developed countries, i.e. against every US$1 of foreign aid, US$10 is siphoned off to the developed countries.
M Hafizul Islam of PSI said that a total of US$18.41 billion had been siphoned off Bangladesh in 10 years since 2003 through trade miss-invoicing, corruption, bribery and tax evasion by a report of Washington-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI). That means government could earn about BDT 360 billion as additional revenue and would able to invest it in the development program.
Poor people are crippled due to paying of higher rate VAT, debt burden and debt servicing liabilities during last year’s. Govt. needs to realize this through taking appropriate action and strategies for stopping illicit finance flow to ease the people livelihood along with pro poor resource mobilization technique.
More than $402 million have been evaded by the four major mobile phone multinational companies in Bangladesh namely Grameen Phone (Telenor), Banglalink (Orascom), Robi (Singtel) and Airtel (India) through SIM card replacement. Other Multi National Company like British American Tobacco Company has also been accused for tax evasion of around $250 million through false declaration of raw material import.
The right groups demand, (1) Any Bangladesh citizen holding duel passport and have transaction with Bangladesh, must submit their bank and assets information. Punishment should be imposed if tax evasion found. 2) Govt. have to prepare a white paper and make it public on how many Bangladeshis have taken Malaysian Second Home and other citizenship advantage through financing transaction from country. 3) Inter-governmental agreement to be signed with different countries e.g. with Switzerland to exchange bank transaction information of Bangladeshi people as well as foreigners those are working in Bangladesh. 4) Develop legal procedure and stop illicit financing through Hundi. 5) Multi National Co. must disclose their investment and their income. MNC must pay their fair share of taxes 6) White Paper has to be disclosed on financial plundering by Bismillah, Hall-Mark group and other state banks and share market. 7) Govt. should replicate Indian initiative and introduce TIN (Tax Identification Number) for any purchasing or transaction above $2,000 with no cash transaction. If any irregularities are found, assets should be seized at once.