Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has said his ministry could look into the allegations of harassment raised by businessmen against tax officials if those are submitted specifically.
Minister Kamal came up with the statement on Sunday, a day after business leaders at a views-exchange of the Council of Chamber Presidents at the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) auditorium in Dhaka alleged that they were facing extortion and non-cooperation from the field-level civil administration even amid the pandemic-induced slowdown in business.
"If the FBCCI has any complaint, they are definitely related to our ministry. If they let us know their grievances, we will take care of them. I think we can find solutions to their allegations," he said while talking to reporters after presiding over the meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs and Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase.
Earlier on Saturday, the FBCCI issued a press release highlighting various allegations against taxmen, raised by business leaders at the meeting of Council of Chamber Presidents.
At the meeting, business leaders also complained that small and medium enterprises at the district level were not getting loans under the government-announced stimulus package even after being affected by the pandemic, which is making it difficult for the marginal traders to recoup the pandemic-induced losses.
Apart from complaining of delays and irregularities in disbursements of stimulus loans, the businesses also demanded that the loan repayment period is extended till at least June this year.
Regarding allegations of irregularities in the distribution of stimulus loans, the finance minister said, "I cannot answer such a generalised question. You have to ask specific questions and give me time to get answers to these questions."
Mentioning that there are relevant ministries or divisions, the minister said he can come up with an answer before the media only after he discusses the matter with the division concerned.
He, however, assured that those for whom the incentive money has been allocated will get it, even if the loan disbursement process is delayed.
"Even after delays in disbursement, the stimulus loans will not be canceled. This is because there is no way to cancel it. If they [businesses] meet the conditions we have set, they will get the loans."
In response to a question on the government's move to increase the prices of gas, fertilizer and electricity amid the pandemic, the finance minister said he was still unaware of any such move by the government.
"I will be able to look after the matter only after I am informed of it.
"I will definitely do what I should do. Our government is a government of the people. We move with all the people of this country, and I think this path will never be interrupted. We will move forward taking everyone with us."
Shamsul Arefin, additional secretary to the Cabinet Division, told reporters that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved in principle the purchase proposal for construction work on Bangladesh pavilion at the International Horticultural Exhibition Expo 2022 to be held in Almere, Netherlands from April 14 to 9 October this year.
In addition, the committee approved in principle the purchase of a modern geo-location system for the National Telecommunication Monitoring Centre under the Public Security Division.
On the other hand, the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase approved the construction of a bridge over the River Payra on the Kachua-Betagi-Patuakhali-Lohalia-Kalaiya road of the Bangladesh Bridges Authority under the Bridges Division. This project will be implemented by the Samwhan-Mir Akhter joint venture at a cost of Tk641 crore.
The committee also approved a proposal to purchase a vehicle mounted data interceptor (VOIP) and related services from the United States at a cost of Tk56 crore for the National Telecommunication Monitoring Centre.