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Bangladesh NBR’s e-payment system fails to attract taxpayers

Bangladesh NBR’s e-payment system fails to attract taxpayers

DHAKA: The National Board of Revenue (NBR) could not develop an e-payment system suitable for paying large amount of tax online in about five years since introduction of a platform. The platform is capable only to perform small amount transactions.

The existing system was introduced on May 26 in 2012 to facilitate online payment of large volume of income tax, customs duty and Value Added Tax (VAT).

It was, however, found fit for transactions of only small amounts and has since been used by a very small percentage of the income taxpayers – less than 1.0 per cent – who used the system during the income tax fairs only, officials said.

The taxpayers have so far found the e-payment system less attractive and concerned about the system security – particularly after the cyber heist in the central bank.

Both tax officials and taxpayers felt the necessity to increase capacity for accepting large transactions to be credited to the national exchequer electronically.

Meanwhile, the agreement on maintenance and development of the existing e-payment system has expired on October 31, 2015 and not yet renewed by the board.

Talking to the press, a senior NBR official said the board has moved to develop the e-payment infrastructure and make it suitable for paying large amount of tax by removing the existing barriers.

It is expected to sign soon an agreement with local software developing company — Data Soft Systems Bangladesh Limited — for three years for maintenance and development of e-payment portal.

According to Public Procurement Rules-2008, rules-104 (D) of single source selection method, the NBR decided to sign the agreement with retrospective effect. A draft of notification award has been prepared in this regard.

Recently, the NBR has sought opinion from all the board members on the agreement, officials said.

The existing e-payment system was developed with the initiative of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank (WB).

A senior official of the NBR said Data Soft was the developer of the system, but contract with the IFC for its maintenance expired on October 31, 2015.

Now, the NBR has to sign a fresh contract with the company for maintenance and development of the system. The company is currently maintaining the e-payment system without contract as per verbal assurance of the NBR. After signing the agreement, the NBR will pay the dues against their services with retrospective effect.

Only the account holders having debit and credit cards of 26 scheduled banks of the country, which are connected to the Q-Cash network, are eligible for paying tax through the e-payment system.

The NBR, the Bangladesh Bank, Sonali Bank, and the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office are the coordinators of the system.