Taxes on building materials must be reduced: Stakeholders

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Domestic makers of essential building materials are calling for them to be relieved of the overburden of multiple taxes to help them cope with the fallout from the pandemic.

They say a spike in commodity prices and transportation costs globally poses serious challenges to them and the national economy as a whole.

Manufacturers of building materials made the observations during a pre-budget meeting with the National Board of Revenue (NBR) on Wednesday.

They suggested lowering taxes while several hundred other sectors are affected by the rising cost of building materials.

The meeting was organized by the NBR at its headquarters in Segunbagicha ahead of the development of the national budget for the financial year 2022-23.

Representatives from 24 professional organizations of bar, cement, tile and brick manufacturers joined the parliament, chaired by NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem.

Presenting a budget proposal, Bangladesh Steel Manufacturers Association (BSMA) President Manwar Hossain said the sector was going through tough times amid soaring raw material prices around the world.

“There could be a domino effect on the economy unless the NBR intervenes to stabilize the market since many sectors are linked to it,” he adds.

The BSMA has proposed to lower the VAT on billets per tonne made from fusible scrap and mild steel (MS) products prepared from billets to 500 Tk from the existing 2,000 Tk each.

It also sought to reduce withholding tax (TDS) on sales to 1.0% from the existing 2.0%.

First Vice President of Bangladesh Cement Manufacturers Association Shahidullah calls for reducing withholding tax on raw materials such as limestone, slag, fly ash and gypsum to 0.5 % versus 3.0%.

His association also demanded to reduce import duties on clinker per ton, the main raw material for cement, from 500 Tk to 200 Tk.

In his speech, the head of the NBR, Mr. Muneem, said that the government cannot take responsibility for the spiraling prices in the world market.

“The country cannot go bankrupt by offering a massive tax cut,” he adds.

He, however, says that building materials are a very crucial part of the economy as they help in the circulation of money and the creation of jobs.

Responding to a call from some building material importers, Muneem suggests that Bangladesh should boost local manufacturing as the country transitions to a developing country.

“The government must protect consumer rights and encourage local manufacturing through political support.”

Leaders of the Bangladesh Real Estate and Housing Association suggest extending the possibility of investing undisclosed money in the sector for five to ten years.

NBR members Zakia Sultana and Md Shamsuddin Ahmed, among other officials, were also present.

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