To say that Bangladesh has had trouble with generating tax revenue would, at this point, be a gross understatement. Every year, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) sets a target for revenue collections, and unlike the targets themselves, each and every year, they fail to hit the mark.
However, somehow, despite failing to hit the mark consistently, the subsequent budget always reflects a higher target than the previous fiscal year. This begs the question: Is there any strategy or planning that goes into setting these targets, or is the NBR just randomly setting targets?
To be fair to the NBR, there have been increases in revenue collection this fiscal year, and that does deserve recognition. Yet, what cannot be denied is that despite the 15% increase in revenue from the previous fiscal year, they have still missed the target set.
While Bangladesh must continue to look onward and upward, and indeed set targets and goals that reflect its ambitions, they cannot be unrealistic, especially when the trend has simply given no indication of these higher targets being achievable.
What is the need of the hour for the NRB is to assess where it is that it is falling short and thus failing to hit its targets on a regular basis. This newspaper has editorialized numerous times on the many issues that arise, chief of which is a regressive culture which punishes and harasses honest taxpayers. Why would anyone willingly pay taxes in a nation that makes it so difficult to do so?
On top of that, it is the rich and powerful who often get away with paying nothing, and Bangladesh’s culture of immunity means that these individuals face no ramifications for essentially robbing the country’s progress.
Tax evasion and leakages mean that our revenue mobilization continues to suffer. Until we fix the issues plaguing our revenue collection, and create a simple and fair taxation system that doesn’t punish honest, everyday taxpayers, we will continue to be held back as a nation.