Business

Capital Machinery Imports: Govt backtracks on slapping advance tax

Tk 5,23,190cr budget passed in JS

Staff Correspondent
Entrepreneurs will not be required to pay Advance Tax on import of capital machinery and spare parts this fiscal year, as the government has backtracked on its move to levy the indirect tax on such import to facilitate industrialisation.
In the proposed budget for fiscal 2019-20, the government sought to slap 5 percent Advance Tax (AT) on import under the new Value Added Tax (VAT) to widen the VAT net and curb scope for money laundering through trade mis-invoicing.
The proposal for imposing AT raised concerns among businesses that it would push up operational costs of businesses, particularly for domestic market-oriented industries, as import of raw materials by export-oriented factories is now out of the purview of AT.
And finally, in his closing speech on the budget on Saturday, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal proposed AT exemption on import of capital machinery and spare parts, and machinery and other materials for power plants to encourage investment.
“We welcome the withdrawal and [are] thankful [to the government] for accepting part of our proposal for the manufacturing sector,” said Sheikh F Fahim, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).
The FBCCI had earlier also demanded withdrawal of AT on import of industrial raw materials.
The government has also retreated from its initial plan to massively hike VAT on steel rod amid entrepreneurs’ concerns that the spike would lead to price spiral of the material, affecting the construction sector and the burgeoning steel industry.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) initially proposed imposing Tk 2,000 as specific VAT on each tonne of steel rod for fiscal 2019-20, seeking to increase the indirect tax on the construction material by up to four times that in the outgoing fiscal year.
However, during the passage of the tax measures on Saturday, the specific VAT on rod was reduced by up to 50 percent from the proposed rates.
For example, VAT on mild steel rod made from scrap was reduced to Tk 1,200 each tonne from proposed Tk 2,000 for this fiscal year.
Besides, VAT on ingot made from locally collected meltable scrap was slashed to Tk 1,000 from proposed Tk 2,000. VAT on rod made from billet was also cut by half.
Despite the reduction, overall incidence of VAT on rod has increased as the new rates are double the amount of VAT collected from users for each tonne of the key construction material in the outgoing fiscal year, according to NBR documents.
Industry operators say rod prices may go up because of the new rates.
Tapan Sengupta, executive director of the BSRM, a leading steel manufacturer in the country, said millers will have to bear AT on import of raw materials for making steel and pay tax at source apart from the increased VAT.
As a result, operational cost of mills will increase, and it will have an impact on prices of rod, he added.

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