A greater number of people from the low-income group are now going to super shops, as supermarkets maintain better hygiene and social distancing standards than smaller general shops
Supermarket owners and customers have requested the government to withdraw value added tax (VAT) to reduce the burden on low-income customers.
Greater numbers of people from low-income groups are now going to super shops, as supermarkets maintain better hygiene and social distancing standards than smaller general shops, say supermarket owners.
“Due to the lockdown caused by coronavirus, more common people are coming to super markets for safety reasons. However, VAT is a burden for common people as it increases the price of goods,” Shwapno CEO Sabbir Hasan Nasir told Dhaka Tribune.
“If the government withdraws VAT, it will be very helpful and less expensive for lower-middle income people,” he added.
Customers also said they would rather not pay VAT at super shops, just as they do not at general shops.
"When I buy five litres of soybean oil at Tk500, I have to pay Tk25 VAT. This does not apply in a general shop," Amirul Islam, a shopper at a Meena Bazar outlet in Mirpur, told Dhaka Tribune.
“I would normally go to general shops, but now there is no option. I think the government should remove VAT for the crisis period,” he added.
Supermarket owners and officials also said it was discriminatory to have VAT only at supermarkets.
“Due to safety and social distancing, more people are coming to supermarkets. Quality, hygiene and lack of hassle are the reasons for the popularity of supermarkets,” Meena Bazar CEO Shaheen Khan told Dhaka Tribune.
“It is also discriminatory. Customers do not have to pay VAT at general stores. Considering the present crisis, the government should at least suspend it for the time being,” Shaheen added.
Bangladesh Supermarket Owners Association Finance Director, Quazi Ruhul Amin, said: “As far as I know, the government has earned about Tk20 crore from VAT on sales at supermarkets. If the government slashes the VAT, it would not be a big loss for them but it would be a great cushion for customers.”