British American Tobacco Bangladesh has sought an out-of-court settlement for a VAT dispute amounting to Tk 1,924 crore as it looks to close the episode that has dragged on for four years and the UK Foreign Office into a major lobbying controversy.
The British multinational company in July wrote to the revenue authority's Large Taxpayer's Unit about its intent to resolve the value-added tax wrangle through the Alternative Dispute Resolution method.
This was followed by a letter from Alison Blake, the British high commissioner to Bangladesh, to Finance Minister AMA Muhith early last month on the matter.
“I understand you have advocated that the NBR arrange meetings with the law minister and attorney general to discuss the possibilities of an out-of-court settlement, but somehow these meetings have not been held,” she said in the letter.
ADR is the procedure for settling disputes without litigation. ADR is usually less formal, less expensive and less time-consuming than a trial.
The National Board of Revenue though said it cannot do anything on the matter as long as the case remains pending with the Supreme Court.
“Out-of-court settlement through the ADR is not possible right now,” said LTU Commissioner Md Matiur Rahman.
“The matter in question is sub judice and should be settled in the court of law,” said NBR Chairman Nojibur Rahman, while acknowledging that BATB is a good taxpayer, one that provides a substantive amount of revenue to the public exchequer every year.