Major irregularities have been detected in the large tax paying unit LTU VAT. Allegations of VAT waiver of Tk 153 crore by four mobile operators have been made against former commissioner Wahida Rahman Chowdhury. A three-member committee of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) is investigating the incident. Officials said that the commissioner does not have the jurisdiction to waive VAT.
NBR’s LTU VAT filed 16 cases against four mobile operators in 2015-2018 for VAT evasion. Among them, Banglalink was accused of embezzlement of Tk 84 crore in seven cases, Grameenphone in six cases of Tk 68 crore, and Robi and Airtel in three cases of Tk 37 crore. The total amount claimed including evasion and interest stands at Tk 242 crore.
After a long litigation, LTU and companies agreed to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in 2021. Which was addressed last year. The companies admitted the complaint and paid 189 crores of evasion. But LTU waives 153 crores of interest on VAT.
Recently, NBR came to know that former LTU Commissioner Wahida Rahman Chowdhury has illegally waived interest. NBR formed a three-member committee to investigate the incident on December 4.
Former NBR Commissioner Abdul Kafi said, if interest is charged, it should not be waived in ADR. ADR’s power is to mediate, there is no question of imposition of power. Imposition of penalty, passing of any order, interpretation of any law are beyond ADR.
Officials said that if there is evidence of irregularities, letters will be sent to the companies to recover the waived amount. Besides, NBR will take action against the officials involved. Mobile operators are worried about NBR initiatives. However, they refused to speak.
Those concerned say that the business environment is being affected due to questionable ADR system. Rizwan Rahman, the former president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the ADR law was made by the government. So that thousands of cases are not languishing in court for decades, they are settled. But if this is being discussed again, it means that this law is not being obeyed. Then there is no need for ADR law.
Recently, there were allegations of irregularities in the settlement of some other cases in ADR against LTU officials.