Catching Untaxed Money from the Internet and Miscellaneous: The Awakening
Pratiti Shirin writes for DOT
The NBR has decided that all internet giants like Facebook, Google and Youtube have to register for VAT in order to post advertisements on their websites, with effect from July 1. Until now, a huge amount of money has gone out of the country because there was no effort on the country’s part to catch the money of online based advertisements that foreign companies put up on these sites. Consequently, the country lost out on money that was siphoned out of the country abroad.
This attempt to collect revenue from online based advertisement resembles the attempts made mostly by the current Awami League government to tap remittance that was previously brought into the country in the form of cash (commonly known as hundi) because the process of formally sending money from abroad was too complicated back then. Needless to say, the foreign exchange reserve will swell further if online based advert money is formally collected.
According to a survey-carrying oranisation based in the US, the cost of living of Dhaka is higher than the cost of living of Washington D.C. Bangladesh ranks 38 in this survey whereas Washington D.C. ranks 39. It simply means that Bangladeshis are overpaying for goods and services or put simply, for one taka, Dhakaiites are getting an apple whereas Washington DCians are getting two. According to another famous newspaper The Economist which carried out its survey on 133 megacities of the world, Dhaka ranks among one of the most expensive cities in South Asia. Indeed, its living cost is higher than India’s Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore or Karachi of Pakistan. According to a London based agency called Economic Intelligence, although the standard of living has declined significantly in Dhaka over the past 12 months, the latter remains more expensive than other megacities of South Asia or even the Turkish city of Istanbul of Europe.
One wonders about the roads of development given the above data. On the one hand, Bangladesh is in the making to become one of the biggest economic giants of South Asia and the world. On the other hand, the economic disparity between the rich and the poor is widening day by day, made difficult by a failing transport system, law and order, education and health care among others. One therefore cannot help but wonder, where exactly is the development taking place, or in other words, whose development is it? More importantly, the overwhelming question that arises is what are we paying for and is it worth our money.
The writer is an Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh. She can be reached at [email protected]