Citizens are being forced to pay more to have a passport as the authorities began charging 15 per cent value-added tax on fees from Sunday.
People who went to deposit money for new passports or renewal of their existing ones suffered a lot on the day as most of them did not have any idea that the Department of Immigration and Passport began collecting the VAT without notice, reports the daily New Age.
Branches of state-owned Sonali Bank, except Agargaon, and six other private commercial banks refused to receive fees from passport seekers on the day causing hassles to the people, service seekers alleged.
Officials of DIP said that on December 23 they had instructed the state-owned Sonali Bank and six other private commercial banks, including Trust Bank, One Bank, Premier Bank and Bank Asia, to charge 15 per cent VAT along with various other fees for new passports and renewal of old ones in line with the instruction of the National Board of Revenue.
Earlier on November 16, the revenue board informed the home ministry about the decision to impose VAT on passport fees.
Sabiha Begum from Wari in Dhaka who had deposited Tk 3,000 as fee on December 4 to have a new passport, visited the passport office at Agargaon on Sunday to submit her passport form but officers refused to receive her form asking her to deposit Tk 450 as VAT first.
‘It took me four hours to deposit the VAT money at Agargaon branch of Sonali Bank as the queues were long and I failed to submit the form today [Sunday],’ she told New Age.
Jamal Uddin who paid Tk 900 as VAT along with a Tk 6,000 fee for an emergency passport said that he was forced to visit the bank twice to deposit the fee and VAT.
Sonali Bank Agargaon branch manager Matiar Rahman Biswas told New Age that they had to tackle a huge crowd as all other branches and banks refrained from receiving fees.
‘In the early few hours, we also received fees without VAT from people as the DIP did not give any date for execution of its instruction on VAT collection. But DIP sent them back to deposit VAT that complicated the situation,’ he said.
Usually, Sonali Bank’s Agargaon branch provides passport-related services to around 1,500 people every day which increased to around 4,000 on Sunday, he added.
Officers at different branches of Sonali Bank and Trust Bank told New Age that many people came to deposit passport fees with VAT, but they stopped receiving fees as they were yet to get any instructions either from their respective head offices, or the NBR and DIP regarding VAT.
A high official of the DIP said that they had hung several notices at the passport office regarding VAT.