Mandatory installation of Electronic Fiscal Device (EFD) for certain varieties and categories of businesses is clear recognition of the large outlets -wholesale or retail -from the small ones. There is no reason for grumbling from the businesses with an annual turnover at a certain level. Even if the business is dull, such outlets maintain their status largely because small profits on particular commodities add up to a sizeable amount depending on extensive sale. Electronic Cash Register (ECR) now being widely used will have to make way for this advanced machine equipped with subscriber identification module (SIM) and capable of working under the WiFi regime providing fibre optic connectivity. In short, it proposes to be the highest form of digital transaction under constant monitoring and supervision by the National Board of Revenue (NBR). The revenue board will have the advantage of activating or deactivating the device through remote control.
Clearly, the objective here is evident to all. The NBR wants to ensure that businesses are not left with any choice other than paying the right amount of value-added tax (VAT). Here is a machine that will hardly leave any scope for tampering with. In fact, the machine will have the capacity to automatically collect VAT at five different rates. The deadline set for installation of the device in cities is November 01 next but businesses in the district towns will have yet another month for complying with the NBR order. Interconnectivity with the NBR will keep the machines running. But experience of government services -where Bangladesh telecommunication is involved in particular -is not happy. Internet service is at times disrupted for technical faults or other reasons. Where business transactions of an enormous number of outlets are concerned any disruption -let alone breakdown -can be disastrous.
If such technical and technological glitches can be ruled out, there are hardly reasons for complaining against the introduction of the device in business transactions where government will have a fare share of its revenue. If the system works well from the technological point of view, businesses should respond positively too. But defining the categories for inclusion in the list of 13 types selected will not be easy. Problems will arise in case of the size of the outlets. There are small offices that handle huge businesses without exhibiting goods and commodities. On the other hand, apparently big businesses extended over a sizeable space may give a false impression.
In rural setting it will confront the problem of mastering the advanced technology. Then there is the question of availability of internet service and using it properly. To introduce the system all across the country, the foremost need is to get the infrastructure ready. Businesses qualifying for installation of the device in rural haats and bazaars will be at a loss if they are asked to procure WiFi routers and other paraphernalia. It will be highly challenging before the NBR to bring such business outlets under such revenue collection coverage.
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