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NBR’s ‘green tax’ collection drive ineffective

Although seven months of the current fiscal have elapsed, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) could not yet take any effective step for realising ‘one percent surcharge’ or ‘green tax’ from the industries and factories that are polluting the environment, report agencies.

The ‘green tax’ system was supposed to come into effect on July 1, 2014 as the government has introduced this tax for the first time in the budget for 2014-15 fiscal. As per law, polluting companies have to pay one percent surcharge on the prices of their goods.

The VAT wing would collect the 1.0 per cent surcharge under the ‘Environment Protection Surcharge Collection Rules 2014’. The amount of surcharge would be non-tax revenue that the government will spend on protection of the environment.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith in his budget speech said there is no alternative to development of domestic industries for the country’s economic growth. “But, it can’t be ignored that this development is also having some adverse effects on the environment by way of polluting the soil, air and water resources,” he said.

The government has decided to impose the 1 percent ‘Environment Protection Surcharge’ ‘green tax’ on ad-valorem basis on all kinds of products manufactured in Bangladesh by the industries which pollute the environment, Muhith said in his budget speech.

A total of 760 industries in Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna have been short-listed, from among 2,500 selected earlier, to be penalized with green tax for polluting the environment, a senior NBR officials told UNB.

“We have sent our list of the polluting industries to the NBR,” Department of Environment (DoE) Md. Raisul Alam Mondal told the agency over phone on Thursday.

Asked about the number of the polluting industries on the list, he said the number is always changeable. “Today, the industry is in the list tomorrow that can be out of it because of compliance,” he said.

In this connection, the DoE DG said the industry that does not have the Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) will be on the list, but if that industry installs the ETP will be out of the list.

To realise the ‘green tax’, the NBR has to publish a gazette with the names of the selected industries. After the issuance of the gazette, the names of the industries will be updated after a certain period of time.

Talking to the news agency, another NBR official said they are taking time to examine and reexamine the names of the industries. “Initially, the names of polluting companies will not be included in the list as the relevant law does not specify it for companies,” the NBR official said.

He also said polluting companies like brickfields, polluting hospitals and other companies would be out of the list as the existing law does not define these as industries.

According to sources at the Finance Ministry, the government is thinking about the image of the country’s export products before making the names of these polluting industries or factories public as many exporters have requested the government to be cautious over selecting the names of the industries and take into consideration the sustainability of their business.

They said if the names of the polluting industries are published it would taint the image of Bangladeshi products in the global market.

The NBR, meanwhile, has formulated a policy to collect the green tax. As per the policy, the tax regulatory body will collect this tax the way it collects VAT through treasury chalan.

The NBR has prepared the list of environment polluters in three categories with the industries in Dhaka falling in the first category, while those in Chittagong and Khulna in the second category and those in other divisional headquarters in the third category.

The revenue board has already requested the Internal Resources Division of the Finance Ministry for creating a separate code to deposit the collected green tax to the national exchequer.

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