Over 40pc of VAT on unspent online project funds

ByRichard C. Sloan

Jul 3, 2021

| Update:
July 03, 2021, 9:44 a.m.

Almost 43% or Tk 3.0 billion of funds from the very famous TVA Online Project (VOP) remained unspent even after his term ended on June 30.

Officials said the project did not spend the allocation because some of the planned milestones were dropped due to the protracted Covid-19 pandemic.

According to an Economic Relations Division project close-out and audit report commissioned by Deloitte, around 90% of the project task has been completed until June 30.

Senior VOP officials said 13 modules have so far been developed to automate VAT administration, while the remaining three will be completed by July 2021.

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) launched the project on May 9, 2014, with financial support from the World Bank and the government of Bangladesh.

The Washington-based multilateral lender provided $ 60 million for the project as part of a “results-based program” initiative.

The government had previously extended the duration of the project twice, as some main modules remained incomplete.

Three modules – audit, litigation and risk management will be completed by the IT team (information technology) of the BNR with the support of the Vietnamese company FPT which developed the online VAT system.

The contract signed with the firm for Tk 2.20 billion was until December 31, 2020.

The FPT will receive Tk 1.70 billion for its work under the project.

According to VOP officials, a post-warranty contract has been signed with the Vietnamese contractor to support the system until March 2022.

VOP work has picked up speed lately, as the incumbent project manager himself developed 23 business process modules instead of appointing a project management consultant, they said.

An estimated Tk 1.40 billion has been allocated for advisory purposes. The project spent only Tk 450 million appointing a part-time consultant.

The VOP abandoned training programs for civil servants, campaigns, advertisements, software development for human resources, renovation of VAT offices and the appointment of a management consultant.

IT and administrative units have been set up to integrate changes in tax measures for the 2021-22 fiscal year as adopted by the 2021 finance law.

Speaking to FE, project director Kazi Mustafizur Rahman said the VOP has been successfully completed despite multiple challenges amid this pandemic.

He said three more modules would be completed soon and would then be prepared for testing after the preparation of audit and risk management manuals by the BNR.

The major success of the project is to automate the process of registering and submitting the VAT return.

In May, some 121,000 businesses, or 67% out of a total of 241,000 BIN (business identification number) holders, submitted their VAT returns online.

The modules completed under the project are types of taxes, registration, processing of declarations, revenue accounting, revenue management, day-to-day accounting of taxpayers, reimbursement and credit / adjustment, non-reporting, debt management, taxpayer survey, document certification and document management.

The VOP has partially completed the case management modules which are now online. He has also developed an audit module but not yet tested.

The opposition and litigation modules are still under development.

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