Third gender community lauds special tax cut in FY22 budget
Third gender community has lauded the 5% tax reduction proposed in the budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year for companies that employ 10% or 100 individuals of the community.
However, they have urged for transparency, accountability and more favourable announcements in the future so that the community can enter the formal economy.
While announcing the FY22 budget last Thursday, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal also proposed to increase the tax-free income limit for third gender people. Earlier, the tax-free income limit was Tk3 lakh, but the minister has proposed to increase it to Tk3.5 lakh.
Noting that members of the third gender community are often deprived of the opportunity to engage in socio-economic activities and the need to engage them in mainstream society, the finance minister said: "I propose to insert necessary provision in the law to provide tax rebate amounting to 75% of the total salary paid to the workers from the third gender or 5% of payable tax, whichever is lower, to the employers who will employ 10% of their total workforce or more than 100 workers from the members of the third gender."
Evan Ahmed Kotha, a leader of the transgender community, said: “We thank the government for the corporate tax cut on employment of third gender people. If businessmen take this opportunity, many from our community will get jobs.”
Kotha also said that earlier, many companies and business organizations in the name of employing two or three members of the transgender community have increased their face value and drawn the attention of the media.
“But nobody knows what happened after that,” she added.
Kotha urged for a monitoring body from the Ministry of Social Welfare so the provision is not misused.
Another transgender woman Bonoful said they want to work as normal human beings, but due to the mentality of many people, the community is still lagging behind.
The tax rebate for transgender employment was also appreciated by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) and the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) at their post-budget discussions.
Social inclusion will be ensured if this working population can be engaged in productive activities, they concluded.
Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) President Rizwan Rahman noted that although the move has good intentions, the government needs to reduce the minimum limit so that more and more business houses can take part in this initiative.
Earlier, Dr Muhammad Shahadat Hossain Siddiquee, development policy researcher and professor of Economics at the University of Dhaka, said: “Businessmen will consider the marginal cost and marginal benefits while employing 100 transgender people. Only feasibility will allow companies to capitalize on this 5% corporate tax exemption.
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“To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), keeping no one behind is the motto, and to address this reality, developing a humane psyche before employing them at the workplace is a prerequisite,” he explained.
In this regard, Faruq Faisel, regional director of ARTICLE 19 Bangladesh and South Asia, issued a statement of appreciation on Monday.
“This initiative will increase the employment opportunity for third gender persons in the private sector and change the social attitude towards them. Besides, these marginalized people will contribute to the productivity growth in the country and improve their living standard simultaneously,” added Faisel.
There are around 11,000 third gender people in Bangladesh, according to the Ministry of Social Welfare.
According to Bandhu Welfare Society, a number of transgender members are currently employed in media organizations, hotels, in private universities as security guards, in NGOs at different posts, the service sector including health, beauty and food, as well as the leather and garments sectors.