Sunamganj’s stone supplier Haji Mohammad Rais Ali has been recognised as a longstanding taxpayer by the National Board of Revenue (NBR), while his eldest son Azizur Rahman led the family into receiving the Kar Bahadur Family award, an accolade for the families paying noteworthy income tax.
Along with them, Rais’s youngest son Muhibur Rahman was recognised as one of the best taxpayers at an event organised by the NBR at Abul Mal Abdul Muhith Krira Complex in Sylhet last week.
Rais Ali and his sons are businessmen from Nooyarai village in Sunamganj’s Chhatak municipality, who are known for their contribution to the society.
Apart from being involved in various social welfare activities including construction of mosques and madrasas in the area, the family have also created numerous job opportunities in their businesses for many unemployed local youths.
Since 1966, Rais made his name in the area gradually after starting a number of small businesses. Quickly, he became adept as a stone supplier.
Before the 1971 Liberation War, when most traders evaded income tax, Rais used to turn up at Sylhet’s Ambarkhana tax office to pay his due.
He kept up with the tradition of paying tax, even after the war, without paying heed to any loss in his business. He has been doing so every year since then.
Among Rais’s 10 sons, Azizur, Muhibur, Ekhlasur Rahman, Mizanur Rahman, Rakibur Rahman, Hafizur Rahman and Saifur Rahman are all businessmen, based in Chhatak.
Among his other sons – Shamsur Rahman is an expatriate living in London; Ziaur Rahman is a hafez (someone who has completely memorised the Quran); and Mohammad Ali Babu is a service-holder.
Azizur came into the profession of stone supplying following his father’s footsteps. He started by making a small investment in the trade, but quickly made his name because of his honesty and became the biggest stone supplier in Chhatak.
He sells stones to contractors in various parts of the country. Six of his younger brothers later followed him and also became established traders in their respective fields.
Azizur has taught his children about business first-hand. His wife Rabeya Akhtar Chowdhury, only son Imtiaz Rahman, daughter-in-law Arfa Nahar Chowdhury, eldest daughter Fahmida Rahman Tania and youngest daughter Farzana Rahman Sonia are all engaged in the business.
They too pay their taxes regularly.
Azizur told the Dhaka Tribune: "My father has always been an honest businessman. All of us followed his footsteps and have made it this far.”
He also said: "If businessmen pay their income taxes regularly, they do not face any loss in their businesses – rather they receive social and national recognition [for their honesty].”
His brother Muhibur said: “Tax evasion marks a loss of one’s integrity which also hurts the country’s economy. So, I will urge everyone to pay their income taxes.”
For the first time, the government at an event in Dhaka last week honoured 84 families from across the country with the title ‘Kar Bahadur’, tax icons for paying big amounts of tax with exemplary compliance for a long time, and Sunamganj’s Azizur and his family was named as one of them.
Tax collection in Sunamganj
There are 22,335 taxpayers under three circles in Sunamganj district. Among them, 5,381 are new taxpayers.
Last year, the tax collection target for these circles was Tk43 crore. However, NBR had collected a surprising total of around Tk57 crore.
This year, however, the NBR collected Tk55.81 crore from the Sadar tax circle, Tk 37.5 lakh from the salaried circle and Tk73 lakh only was collected from the Chhatak circle.
Assistant Tax Commissioner of the district tax office Tanmay Kanti Sarkar told the Dhaka Tribune: "In order to encourage taxpayers to pay, we organise tax and trade fairs, bring out posters and audio advertisements. Besides, three-to-five-strong teams are formed to work on the grassroots level.
“However, due to a manpower shortage, we have not been able to speed up the work in the grassroots level.”
He continued: “There is a considerable shortage of manpower in the three circles. If we can manage to overcome that, then the number of taxpayers will increase.”
“The tax collection was slightly interrupted due to the storms and floods this year. Sunamganj’s entire economy depends on the Boro crop alone. The loss of crops affected the business and commerce here,” Sarkar further added.