Dhaka sceptical of recovering funds stashed abroad


Dhaka : Authorities in Bangladesh have succeeded partially in recovering untaxed funds at home, but lacking adequate evidence they are growing increasingly sceptical about those laundered and stashed abroad.

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The extended date asking people to declare unaccounted income ended Sunday. Officials said they had unearthed taka 32 billion ($535 million) of such income, generating taka 5.4 billion in tax.

Seventy percent of the 22,500 defaulters were from Greater Dhaka, the national capital and its surrounding areas, the New Age newspaper said Sunday.

“The response should have been much more,” said Badiur Rahman, chairman of National Board of Revenue.

Transparency International last week rated Bangladesh 166th on a list of 200 nations for corruption. Many of its politicians and businessmen are perceived to have engaged in money laundering.

The army-backed caretaker government has made anti-corruption drive and recovery of untaxed income a high priority task.

Finance Advisor Mirza Azizul Islam said Saturday that he saw “bleak prospect” of repatriation of money siphoned out of the country.

“We’re continuing our efforts, but we have to be practical. We should not expect too much,” he was quoted as saying in The Daily Star.

Many Bangladeshis are reported to have stashed away their money in Malaysian banks.

In an editorial Sunday, The Daily Star lamented that Bangladesh’s GDP would have been two percent higher but for corruption and money laundering.

It supported the government’s drive to recover money, terming it the second phase of the effort that began in January when it took office and launched the drive invoking rules under national emergency.

Linking corruption to political instability, the editorial said: “The instability that has crept into our political and economic systems has much of its origin in the acquisition of unearned and unexplained wealth. Unless this bad system is broken down, the drive against corruption cannot be expected to achieve its full results.”