ENTERING RECOVERY PHASE
COVID-19 Updates in Bangladesh.
- In March, general holidays/lockdown had been declared from 26 March to 4 April to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The measure has been extended several times throughout April and May, and it was finally ending on 30 May. The general holidays and restrictions were not applicable and enforced to the essential sectors, including foods, industrial goods, food shop, etc. In June, an order to restrict public movement had been enforced and on 03 August, it had been again extended until 31 August. The order covered prohibition on staying outdoors from 10:00pm-05:00am, closure of all shops and malls after 08:00pm, and prohibition of all types of gatherings. On 1 September, the restrictions on public movement had been lifted.
- In June, the flight operations on international routes started to resume on limited scale after the three month’s suspension of flights. As of October, the international flights have been permitted to/from countries, including Bahrain, China, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Maldives, Oman, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Turkey, UAE and UK are permitted to be operated. Besides, with effect from 1 October, the number of passengers which are allowed to be carried by international flights are limited to the size of aircraft. Travellers depart to/from Bangladesh are required to provide COVID-19 negative test result within 72 hours of travel before travelling.
- In the past few months, the government has been announcing different stimulus packages to assist the nations amid of the pandemic, including
- March- A total of BDT 50bn (approx. USD 595m) was announced to assist export-oriented industries. The package included the assistance towards funding of loans and salaries
- April – A total of BDT 677.5bn (approx. USD 8 bn) was announced to be implemented in immediate, short and long phases through four programmes. In addition, on 13 April, direct cash support has been announced for the certain groups of nations, including health workers, bankers.
- Meanwhile, the government has imposed income tax at 32.5% on promotional expense exceeding 0.5% of business turnover. The new law in the Finance Bill 2020-21 has been passed by The Finance Division, Ministry of Finance and subsequently the revenue authority of Bangladesh, National Board of Revenue (NBR) has issued the circular on the following;
- In the existing law there is no cap on admissible expenses in the Promotional Expense head. By the addition of a new clause (P) in section 30 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 1984, a maximum admissible expense has been set at zero point five zero percent (0.50%) of the disclosed business turnover.
- For this clause, promotional expense means any expense incurred by way of giving any benefit in kind or cash or in any other form to any person for the promotion of business or profession.The rule is effective for 2020-21 tax year (meaning 2019-20 income year).
- Currently, the promotional expenses are recognised as admissible expenses provided if the expense is spent for the purpose of businesses, however, with the new cap introduced, company can only claim up to 0.5% of its turnover as the admissible expenses which will lead to a significant tax increase for companies in Bangladesh. The local trade entities, business associations and companies have been observed in submitting positions to the governments in expressing the concerns.