Shop owners of the country have sought Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s intervention to keep stores open till 10.00 pm during Ramadan instead of the regular closing time of 8.00 pm as sales are expected to increase ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr.
In an application to Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi on February 9, they also sought the premier’s intervention in simplifying the VAT submission process, stopping harassment of traders by VAT officials, etc.
The application was signed by the Bangladesh Shop Owners Association President Nazmul Hasan Mahmud and Dhaka Shop Owners Association President Arifur Rahman Tipu.
At present, shops in the city are allowed to be kept open till 8.00 pm, a measure introduced by the government last year amid a crunching energy crisis.
In the application sent to the commerce minister, shop owners said they want to keep their stores open till 10.00 pm till the 15th Ramadan as sales are expected to gain during the period. For the rest of the Ramadan, they want to keep the shops open as long as there are customers.
Citing financial instability, the traders sought the prime minister’s support in the letter.
Besides, they proposed to simplify the current VAT law by introducing 15 per cent VAT on their net profit instead of the present 5 per cent VAT on total sales that requires keeping five books. They also demanded to formulate a policy on how much product a dealer, distributor, wholesaler and retailer can keep in stock.
They proposed introducing a provision to penalise everyone from the producer to the seller in case of sellinggoods at a price higher than the price set by the government. They said this will help retail shop traders to be free from harassment and ensure punishment to the real cuplprits.
Furthermore, they proposed the formation of a committee consisting of representatives of shopkeepers’ organisations and representatives of all ministries concerned to determine the net profit rate of wholesale and retail sales.
Meanwhile, the application stated that all shop owners with Tk 50 crore annual turnover are keen to set up electronic fiscal devices (EFDs) for VAT collections. Traders proposed supplying EFDs to all shops. They also requested the prime minister to consider allowing the import of electric metres under a fair and open purchase method subject to the conditions prescribed by the National Board of Revenue. This will allow all shopkeepers to buy and install EFD machines from the market and increase the revenue collection of the government.
In the first three months (July-September) of the current fiscal year 2022-23, authorities have collected Tk 100 crore in VAT through EFD machines across the country. A total of 7,800 EFD machines have been installed in various business establishments in various areas of Dhaka, Chattogram.