DUTY-FREE CAR IMPORT
Newly elected MPs to get facilityJasim Uddin
The National Board of Revenue is set to provide duty-free car import facility for newly elected parliament members as the government asked the board to allow MPs with less than two years in office to import duty-free cars.
To give the facility to the newly elected MPs, mostly from ruling Awami League, the revenue board will amend the existing statutory regulatory order soon, they said.
Earlier on August 13, the revenue board, following an instruction from finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, rejected such proposal of the national parliament that sought removal of existing rules that bar new MPs from importing duty-free cars.
But on August 27, Muhith, retreating from his earlier position, asked the NBR to send the file back to him saying that now he is positively considering providing the facility for those MPs.
On Tuesday, the finance minister instructed the NBR to withdraw the provision of the existing SRO and the NBR is going to amend the rules, officials said.
After issuance of the SRO, MPs with less than two years in tenure in parliament will also be able to import duty-free cars.
According to the existing SRO, MPs having less than two years in parliament are not allowed to enjoy such facility.
Officials of the NBR said that earlier in May, the then speaker Abdul Hamid wrote a letter to the finance minister for removing the condition of the SRO issued in April 2010 that imposed a bar for the first-time elected MPs having less than two-years in tenure in parliament from importing such cars.
He also said that it was not logical to bar them from enjoying the facility because of time limitation.
The parliament secretariat also wanted relaxation of the rules saying that some newly elected MPs will not be able to enjoy the duty-free car import facility within the remaining tenure of the ninth parliament unless the rules are relaxed for them.
But the NBR in a summery sent to Muhith stating that relaxation of the rules might bring criticisms from the people and finance minister also echoed same opinion and rejected the plea.
MPs who have taken oath after January 24, 2012 will get the facility as the current parliament will be dissolved in January 24, 2014.
MPs who have less than two years tenure in parliament are Simeen Hussain Rimi (AL), Nahim Razzaq (AL), Saifuzzaman Chowdhury Jabed (AL), Abdul Malek (AL), Rejwan Ahmed Towfiq (AL) and Amanur Rahman Khan Rana (independent).
After the Awami League came in power in 2009, the NBR reintroduced the duty-free car import facility for MPs after the last caretaker government had repealed it in 2007.
Through an SRO issued in June, 2010, the NBR also imposed some conditions including two-year time of tenure as MPs for enjoying the facility.
NBR officials said that they were not in favor of providing such facility as most of the MPs misuse of the duty-free facility.
MPs import expensive cars under the facility and unofficially sell the cars to businessmen in exchange of huge money, they said.
According to NBR data, more than 315 lawmakers of the current parliament have imported cars under the facility and the government lost more than Tk 1,000 crore in taxes.
In last parliament 275 MPs had imported duty-free cars, they said.
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