Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated countries, with around 157 million inhabitants. In 2013 the GDP was around 150 billion USD with an estimated annual growth of 6.0%. In that same year, the Government debt amounted to almost 19% of the GDP. In 2011 it had an unemployment rate of about 5% and in 2010 31.5% of the population fell below the national poverty line, with almost half the population living on less than one dollar per day.

Bangladesh’s tax performance is still unsatisfactory, especially when compared to other countries at a similar stage of economic development. The tax-to-GDP ratio is estimated to be between 8.7% in 2011 and 11.6% in 2013-2014. Over 55% of its total revenue comes from indirect taxes, which is considered high.
Tax policy in Bangladesh should benefit everyone. In practice, however, tax policy, especially indirect tax, does not favor the poor and is not transparent, accountable and progressive. 1% of the population controls 90% of private properties but only contribute 26% to the total tax base. The poorest represent 10% of the population and contribute 74% of the indirect taxes.
The tax system is also centralized at the national level, with local and regional elected bodies having no involvement in the development and implementation of the tax system. Currently there is no combined civil society voice for an accountable and equitable tax policy and fight against tax corruption.
Based on in-country research and field work, the Bangladesh CRAFT team concludes that the main bottle necks currently are poor tax administration, outdated tax policy and weak tax practices.
The year 2013 was marked by a major positive change in the tax policies, reflected in the introduction of a “people friendly tax policy” implemented by the national government. Sushasoner Jonny Procharavizan (Campaign for Good Governance – SUPRO), the lead organization in Bangladesh, is involved in the further development of this policy.

CRAFT Country Strategy

Based on results of its own research, CRAFT Bangladesh set up a tax campaign, which focused on the link between fair taxation, prosperity and progress, and reached over 60 thousand people across the country. In addition, advocacy meetings were organized with the Finance Minister, Members of Parliament, National Board of Revenue officials (both at national and local level), economists, academics and the media to discuss the outcomes of the research and related policy recommendations.

Strategy 2015-2018

The strategy in Bangladesh focuses on achieving the following key improvements:
-           People with the ability to pay tax should be included in the tax net;
-           Gaps in the tax system should be closed;
-           Government revenue should be collected equitably and transparently;
-           Collected government revenue should be increased and used for reducing systemic inequalities.

In order to achieve these goals the CRAFT Bangladesh team will focus on advocacy and campaigns to generate broad-based political pressure for reforms and by actively engaging a broad public constituency around fair taxation. Furthermore, policy advocacy is planned to target, amongst others, the Finance and Planning Ministers, Standing Committee Members, MPs, and the Audit and Accounts Department.

Lead Organization

In 2012 SUPRO became the national lead organization. SUPRO – which stands for Campaign for Good Governance – is a network organization with over 600 Civil Society Organization (CSO)/ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) members and is active in 45 out of 64 districts in Bangladesh. SUPRO is also involved in campaigning for participatory budget, accountable and transparent public financing, which significantly counterparts the Tax Justice work under CRAFT.

Fair Tax Monitor

The FTM allows for a comparison of tax policies and practices in different countries, using a standardized methodology and unified research approach thanks to jointly developed common research framework. Click here to see how Bangladesh did in the Fair Tax Monitor 2016.