Large business firms boom during pandemic


Telecom companies in the country have made enormous profits during the Covid-19 pandemic as people have been using their mobile phones more than ever to maintain interaction.

Due to the countrywide lockdown imposed by the government, there has been an increase in browsing the internet and talking over mobile phones. Students are also attending online classes over internet.

As a result, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has received more taxes, VAT and supplementary taxes from mobile phone operators in 2020-21 fiscal than that of previous year.

The country’s four popular mobile phone operators -- Grameenphone, Robi, Banglalink and Teletalk -- are in the Large Taxpayers Unit (LTU) of NBR.

From these operators, NBR has received totaled Tk 70.86 billion as VAT in the first 10 months of 2020-21 fiscal, which is Tk 15 billion (28 per cent) more than the last one.

According to NBR, the amount of VAT was Tk 55.61 billion in last fiscal. Among the four operators, Grameenphone paid the highest VAT of Tk 37.74 billion.

Not only mobile phone operators, but the large companies of the major sectors also have earned huge profits. This year they have paid more taxes to the government treasury than the previous year.

Of the major sectors, cigarettes, mobile phones, pharmaceuticals, cement, banking and finance, food and beverage sectors have done well amid the pandemic.

These figures were obtained by analysing the VAT collection of NBR’s LTU till last April.

LTU has 110 large companies listed in different sectors of the country. During July-April of the current fiscal, the companies have paid a total of Tk 410.50 billion as VAT, which is 16 per cent more than the last year.

LTU had collected VAT of Tk 37.3 billion from large companies during the same period of last fiscal.

LTU commissioner Wahida Rahman Chowdhury told Prothom Alo that during the pandemic, NBR collected 16 per cent more VAT and taxes compared to last year from the registered companies of LTU. Despite the exclusion of 34 companies from LTU, the growth in VAT collection is quite positive.

She hopes that LTU's VAT collection will exceed Tk 500 billion in the current fiscal. LTU has never crossed this milestone before.

18 per cent surplus in cigarette

The amount of revenue collection indicates that the cigarette business has also increased during the corona period. The country’s two largest cigarette manufacturing and marketing companies-- British American Tobacco and United Dhaka Tobacco-- are on the LTU list. Between July and April this fiscal, the two companies have paid 18 per cent more VAT and supplementary duty than the previous year.

At this time, the two companies have deposited Tk 226.11 billion to the government treasury, which is about Tk 34 billion more than the same period of the previous fiscal year.

VAT increases amid the limited banking

Although banking transactions were being limited, the collection of VAT increased during the pandemic. A total of 17 banks are on the LTU list.

In last 10 months (July to April) of this fiscal, NBR has collected Tk 26.48 billion from the banks, which is 42 per cent more than that of last year. Of the banks, Standard Charted Bank (SCB) paid the highest VAT of Tk 5.23 billion. This bank has given almost four times more revenue than the previous year.

When asked chief executive officer (CEO) of SCB Bangladesh Naser Ezaz Bijoy told Prothom Alo that “We have signed two agreements outside of conventional banking. One is VAT online payment and the other is electronic transfer of funds for import. As a result, the amount of VAT has increased.”

Business of pharmaceutical company

During Covid-19, the pharmaceutical business has boomed. The country's 24 largest pharmaceutical companies are on the LTU list. These companies have paid more Tk 1.96 billion as VAT between July and April this year than that of last year.

This time the 24 pharmaceutical companies registered with LTU have paid VAT of Tk 26.43 billion. Of the companies, Square Pharmaceuticals has paid the highest VAT of Tk 4.29 billion.


Beverage business has also earned huge profits. Four top beverage manufacturing companies have paid Tk 1.12 billion more as VAT and supplementary duty in the first 10 months of this fiscal than the same period of the last one.

According to the LTU, these four companies have paid totaled Tk 5 billion as duty-tax in this fiscal.

Cement is indispensable for the construction sector. Along with other sectors, the business of cement and ceramic industries has also boomed. This time four companies in ceramic sector have paid more Tk 0.5 billion as VAT compared to last fiscal.

Loss in hotel business

Due to the countrywide lockdown, hotel business has incurred huge losses during the pandemic period. The five 5-stars hotels--Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Intercontinental Dhaka, Radisson Blue, Water Garden, Dhaka Regency and Unique Hotel and Resort (Westin Hotel)--are on the LTU list.

In the first 10 months of 2020-21 fiscal, they have paid only Tk 370 million as VAT that was Tk 890 million in the same period of the last year.