- Many traders recently found their accounts used for VAT return submission blocked
- They allegedly have to pay a Tk1,000-5,000 bribe to the NBR officials to unblock their accounts
- Businesspersons are fined Tk10,000 for failing to submit VAT returns on time
When Chattogram businessman Aftab Uddin Helal tried to submit the July VAT return, he found the account he used for submitting the document online was blocked. He called the VAT Online Contact Centre's helpline, but he found it was not working.
As Aftab could not submit his VAT return on time, he was fined Tk10,000, and he fears he will be fined again in September if the problem persists.
A number of businesspeople in the port city, who also recently found their accounts blocked like Aftab's, alleged that when they tried to unblock their accounts with the help of the Chattogram Customs, Excise and VAT Commissionerate's Division Offices, they had to spend Tk1,000-5,000 in bribes.
They alleged that a gang of miscreants is involved in this scheme.
A trader's phone number is used as the user ID on the National Board of Revenue's portal for VAT return submission. The account is protected by the user's password, and the account gets locked for typing in the wrong passwords three times.
Traders alleged that the miscreants are manipulating the system in collusion with a section of NBR employees by entering wrong passwords into their accounts and thus locking the accounts.
Aftab said, "Business is not good due to the Covid-19 situation. The NBR should re-launch the VAT online call centre service to protect traders from losses."
Ahasan Ullah, deputy commissioner at the Chattogram VAT Commissionerate, told The Business Standard, "The allegations that a gang is involved in entering wrong passwords are not true. Why would any syndicate work in this?"
He said the VAT Online Contact Centre has been closed since the beginning of the current fiscal year.
Officials at the Chattogram VAT Commissionerate's Division Offices said from 50 to over 100 businesspersons contacted each of the offices in the last two months to unblock their accounts.
Assistant Commissioner Anurupa Dev, divisional officer of the Chandgaon Division, said, "About 100 traders in the circles under the division have complained about problems related to their passwords getting changed in the last two months. They are being given new passwords very quickly with the help of the NBR's IT section. There is no scope for any payment for this service.
"If any aggrieved trader complains about this, immediate action will be taken."
The Chattogram Customs, Excise and VAT Commissionerate has eight divisions. There are 31,649 institutions registered with this commissionerate and around 71% of them submit VAT returns online every month.
With 4% offline VAT return submission, 75% of the registered companies are filing VAT returns under this commissionerate.