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Dhaka Tribune

Muhith for lowering treatment costs to boost health tourism

Update : 27 Apr 2015, 06:46 PM

Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the medical tourism in Bangladesh would not grow unless the leading private hospitals operating here lower their treatment costs.

He said many patients from Nepal and Bhutan wanted to visit Bangladesh for treatment purposes, but high costs discouraged them.

Most of the private hospitals didn’t even maintain regulations, he alleged while talking to the journalists after a meeting of the steering committee for tourism at the Secretariat yesterday.

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon also attended the meeting.

Finance minister criticised the hospitals for not spending a part of their profits for the poor patients’ welfare.

He also said only corporate social responsibility spending of the hospitals would enjoy tax waiver facility.

“Hospital owners’ association recently held a meeting with me and demanded tax waiver. But I told them only the funds of CSR of their hospitals will get the facility, but import of materials for hospitals will not be exempted from tax,” Muhith said.

Under the referral rules of the private hospitals, the hospitals’ owners can enjoy tax exemption in the import of 156 medical machinery, according to National Board of Revenue sources.

Earlier, the National Board of Revenue recently sent a letter to 10 top private hospitals to regularly pay value added tax. Officials said five percent of the VAT would be spent for treatment of the poor patients.

Meanwhile, the government has decided to launch efforts to develop the country’s tourism sites, said finance minister.

Under a three-year plan to boost the local tourism industry, the country will observe the year 2016 as the year of tourism.

Civil aviation and tourism ministry had sought Tk200 crore for investment in the sector but the decision in this regard was yet to be made, said Muhith.

But the tourism ministry will get Tk15 crore as preparation costs for observing tourism year in 2016.

He also stressed the need to launch campaign in foreign media to popularise the country’s tourism sites. He said the government had decided to issue more visas on arrival to the foreigners.

A ministerial conference on tourism will be held in October in Dhaka, to be attended by representatives from 11 countries.

The tourism ministry had a plan to exhibit sculptures of Buddhism in the event, said Rashed Khan Menon. 

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