The High Court (HC) has asked the authorities concerned to explain why its inaction against the alleged evasion of Value Added Tax (VAT) by Cox's Bazar hotels/restaurants in collusion with VAT officials, amounting to hundreds of crores of taka, should not be deemed illegal.
The bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Khizir Hayat on Monday issued the ruling, after hearing a writ petition filed by two lawyers.
All the government institutions concerned, including the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), have been made respondents to the rule.
During the hearing, Advocate Ishrat Jahan Shanta and Advocate Md Shamsuddoha stood for the writ while Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik and Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan represented the state and the ACC respectively.
On 16 November, a news report was published in a national daily with the title, "VAT worth hundreds of crores taka lost".
Attaching the report, Advocate Ishrat Jahan and Advocate Md Shamsuddoha filed the writ on 21 November with the HC, seeking its order in this regard.
According to the news report, Cox's Bazar hotels/restaurants, in collusion with some officials of Cox's Bazar Customs, Excise, and the VAT office, are allegedly misappropriating hundreds of crores of taka in VAT collected from customers.
During an investigation, the ACC Chattogram Integrated District Office-2 has found that many hotels and restaurants in Cox's Bazar are not paying VAT. Most hotels do not even keep guest entry registers or list room rents. Many hotels maintain multiple registers, one for the owners and one for the revenue officials, the report also stated.
Besides, hotels/restaurants do not use the VAT form. They are bribing VAT officials and only paying a minimum VAT on a monthly basis. As such, the government is losing a huge amount of money, it added.