Questions over submission of asset statements of govt employees

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Various questions have been raised regarding the submission of asset statements of government employees. The government employees have been exempted from submitting separate asset statements every five years as it has not been possible to follow the directives in this regard.

Speaking to the newspersons after a meeting on Sunday, cabinet secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said, “Government employees do not need to submit separate asset statements. The yearly income tax return includes a page containing the asset statement. If there is no problem, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) can provide that to the public administration ministry. An order will be issued in this regard.”

However, a question has been raised as to whether the NBR has the authority to disclose a person’s income tax related information to others. According to the IT (income tax) Ordinance of 1984, there are obligations to preserve the information submitted in the income tax statements. Disclosure of such information is also prohibited, according to the ordinance.

Relevant people say NBR can provide any information of a taxpayer only if the court or any state investigative agency like the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) asks for it.

There are a total of 1.5 million government employees in the country at the moment. The provision to submit the asset statements every five years was introduced in 1979. The Ministry of Public Administration has repeatedly asked for the asset statements of the government employees to the other ministries. However, they didn’t get it. Only a few employees have submitted their asset statements.

A form 10B is provided with every income tax return form and this contains the asset statements. There are three conditions for submitting an asset statement. Submission of asset statement is mandatory when the assets exceed Tk 4 million or the taxpayer has a car or he or she has land or a flat or home in the city corporation area.

Now the question remains as to how the law will be implemented for the employees who do not have asset sof Tk4 million or do not have any car or home?

The government employees are directed to submit the asset statement, including information on gaining or selling assets, under the provision no. 12 and 13 of the Government Servants (Conduct) rules of 1979. According to that, a government employee has to seek permission before buying or selling any property, including land, house or flat. In case of buying, the source of money should be disclosed.

Speaking to Prothom Alo regarding this, Aminur Rahman, former member of the Income Tax Division of the NBR, said, “The format, which is used to seek asset statements under the Government Servants (Conduct) rules of 1979, is different from the format used in the income tax statement."

Meanwhile, around 600,000 government employees submit income tax returns every year. The question has also risen as to how the asset statements of the remaining will be collected.