In a letter signed by FBCCI president Mahbubul Alam, the trade body emphasized that taxpayers faced challenges due to the recent implementation of the new Income Tax Act-2023. The complexities introduced by the new tax regulations, coupled with delayed releases of income tax circulars, have created difficulties for individuals and businesses in preparing their tax returns within the stipulated timeframe.
The FBCCI’s letter further highlighted that various trade bodies have approached them, expressing concerns about the limited time provided for taxpayers to comply. Additionally, the ongoing political situation and the imminent general election have contributed to the constraints faced by taxpayers in meeting the November 30 deadline.
Under the provisions of the new Income Tax Act, there is a mandatory requirement for taxpayers to submit their income tax returns within the designated income tax day. The FBCCI, in light of Section 334 of the Income Tax Act-2023, has formally requested the NBR to extend the deadline for the submission of income tax returns until December 31, 2023.
The FBCCI’s appeal underscores the need for flexibility in recognizing the unique challenges posed by the current circumstances and aims to provide relief to taxpayers who require additional time to comply with the new tax regulations.
Bangladesh Delegation Eyes WTO MC13 to Safeguard Developing Nations’ Interests
The 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is scheduled to take place from February 26 to 29, 2024, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ministers from around the world will gather to assess the performance of the multilateral trading system and address the future agenda of the WTO. A delegation from Bangladesh, led by State Minister for Commerce Ahsanul Islam Titu, comprising eight members, will participate in the conference.
This edition of the ministerial conference holds particular significance for Bangladesh as the country is set to transition from a Least Developed Country (LDC) to a developing nation by 2026. Typically held every two years, the conference will focus on critical global issues, including subsidies in agriculture and fisheries, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, and global food security.
Senior Secretary of the Commerce Ministry, Tapan Kanti Ghosh, expressed Bangladesh’s commitment to safeguarding the interests of LDCs and other developing nations. While not highlighting specific issues for Bangladesh, he emphasized the country’s desire to maintain duty-free market access, intellectual property rights, and other trade facilities during the post-LDC graduation period.
Tapan highlighted Bangladesh’s advocacy for the continuation of technical facilities, such as training programs for officials and dispute settlement mechanisms, even beyond the LDC graduation. He affirmed that Bangladesh would play a robust role in these discussions. Additionally, he underscored Bangladesh’s priority on providing subsidies in the fisheries sector during the post-LDC graduation period.
PM Sheikh Hasina Outlines Path to Development Through Independent Institutions
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasized today that a nation’s path to development relies on the foundations of an independent judiciary, a robust parliament, and a capable administration. Speaking at the closing session of the two-day International Conference on ‘South Asian Constitutional Courts in the Twenty-First Century: Lessons from Bangladesh and India’ at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC), she highlighted the government’s commitment to judicial independence. Hasina pointed out that since assuming power, the judiciary has been separated from the administration, with a distinct budget allocation to ensure financial autonomy.
Acknowledging the past dependence of the Judiciary on the government for financial matters, the Prime Minister detailed the steps taken by her government to create an independent Election Commission. She underscored the significance of detaching the Election Commission from the Prime Minister’s Office, ensuring its complete independence and dedicated funding.
Furthermore, Sheikh Hasina mentioned a constitutional amendment, inspired by a High Court verdict, criminalizing the illegal usurpation of state power. She asserted that this inclusion safeguards the fundamental and democratic rights of the people.
Highlighting Bangladesh’s progress, Hasina announced the country’s recognition as a developing nation effective from 2026. Looking ahead, she expressed the vision of transforming Bangladesh into a developed and prosperous country, known as “Golden Bangladesh,” by 2041, in line with the ideals of the nation’s founding leader, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The event also featured remarks from Chief Justice of Bangladesh, Justice Obaidul Hassan, Chief Justice of India, Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, Minister for Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs, Anisul Huq, and Justice M. Enayetur Rahim of the Appellate Division.
Finance Minister Addresses Loan Pressure, Anticipates $3.56 Billion Payment in FY24
Finance Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali stated today that the government is facing pressure to repay foreign loans, but the situation is not yet dire. Responding to reporters during a press briefing after a meeting with an IMO delegation, he mentioned that foreign loan repayments are ongoing. Data from the Economic Relations Division (ERD) indicates that Bangladesh paid $2.67 billion in interest and principal on loans in fiscal year 2022-23, compared to $2.01 billion in the previous fiscal year. The increase is attributed to the end of grace periods for many loans and rising interest rates on market-based loans.
ERD’s projection suggests that Bangladesh will need to pay $3.56 billion in the upcoming fiscal year (FY24). Debt payments are expected to rise to $4.21 billion and $4.72 billion in FY25 and FY26, respectively. Minister Abul Hassan acknowledged concerns about inflation, expressing a desire to see it decrease. He noted that despite decisions taken by the new government to improve the economic situation, implementation is pending.
Returning from the IFAD conference in Italy, Minister Abul Hassan highlighted Bangladesh’s significant assistance from IFAD, totaling around $2 billion, with expectations of increased support in the future. Regarding the meeting with the IMO delegation, he mentioned ongoing assistance from the migration agency to Bangladesh in areas related to migration and beyond.
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