Owners of private medical colleges on Wednesday urged the revenue authority to remove the existing 15 per cent income tax on the institutes, by considering those as non-profit organisations.
They also proposed to withdraw taxes on the import of medical equipment and safety products taking into consideration the Covid-19 pandemic.
The proposals were placed by Bangladesh Private Medical College Association (BPMCA) at a pre-budget meeting organised by the National Board of Revenue (NBR) at its headquarters in the city's Segunbagicha.
Presided over by NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, the meeting was participated by BPMCA president MA Mubin Khan, executive member Dr Md Moazzem Hossain, finance secretary Md Habibul Haque, and NBR member (tax policy) Md Alamgir Hossain, among others.
During the meeting, Mubin Khan said the proposed Private Medical College Act-2021 had recognised private medical colleges as non-profit organizations, but these institutes had been paying 15 per cent income tax from 2010.
"We urge the NBR to withdraw the existing income tax on private medical colleges as the health facilities don't make profit from the services," he said.
He also urged the NBR to cut 38.47 per cent total tax incidence (TTI) on latex and vinyl gloves if imported directly by private medical colleges in the upcoming budget for 2021-2022.
Besides, the BPMCA demanded a total VAT and tax exemption on medical equipment - directly imported by privately-run medical colleges for their hospitals - like blood bank equipment, payment monitor, anaesthesia ventilator, personal protective equipment (PPE), hospital bed, oxygen-generating machine, etc.
Referring to the contribution of private health facilities in the country, BPMCA president said over 64 per cent of the medical services in the country is provided by private health facilities.
Due to the quality of medical education in the country, over 6,500 foreign students got their medical degrees from Bangladesh so far, generating over Tk 10 billion in revenues over the years.
Responding to the proposals, the NBR chairman said, "Private medical colleges are considered as educational institutions while they also generate income. Under such circumstances, can we call private medical colleges non-profit organisations?"
It is true that students from neighbouring countries are coming here to have their medical degrees, he said, adding, "On the other hand, many Bangladeshis are going abroad to have medical treatment."
"How much money is going abroad for the purpose of medical treatment just because of the flaw in service delivery here?" he asked the medical college owners.
He also said that some unscrupulous importers, taking advantage of duty facility for medical equipment, imported machinery for other industries in the name of hospitals.
However, Muneem said that the NBR would take into consideration the suggestions put forward by private medical owners.