To rationalization of import tariff on Automated Teller Machine (ATM) to attain SDG 2030 benchmark indicator 8.10.1 by the establishment of ATM financial Services points throughout the furthest corners of the country for expediting inclusive growth of industry, trade and overall economy of Bangladesh.
Financial inclusion is one of the most important Sustainable development Goals 2030 SDG “8.10 access to financial services for all” for Bangladesh to achieve where the large number of people, especially women, marginal farmers, MSMEs, new entrepreneurs, informal sector enterprises and other socially excluded groups are still far from the access to basic financial services and formal financial institutions.
The benchmark indicators for SDG 2030 8.10 on “access to financial services for all” are Indicator 8.10.1: (a) Number of commercial bank branches per 100,000 adults and (b) number of automated teller machines (ATMs) per 100,000 adults
The Automated teller machine (ATM), a technology-enabled platform, combine both demand and supply and enable the economy to enter the “4th Industrial Revolution where physical products and services can be enhanced with digital capabilities that increase their value, easy to use by the smartphone, reach people, assets, and data—thus creating entirely new and efficient ways of consuming goods and services in the process. ATMs has thus emerged as the most indispensable vehicle to carry forward the agenda of financial inclusion throughout the furthest corners of Bangladesh.
Therefore, to achieve our national economic development goals 2041 and Sustainable Development Goals 2030, it is absolutely imperative to expedite inclusive growth of industry trade and overall economy by setting up ATM Services points throughout the furthest corners of Bangladesh in order to ensure digital financial services for all.
ATMs provide outside the banking hall, replacing cheque, personal attendance of the customer, banking hour’s restrictions and paper-based verification,a number of banking functions– such as withdrawing cash from one’s account, account deposits, making balance inquiries and transferring money from one account to another – using an ATM card and personal identification number issued by the financial institution. The most recent additions include bill payment and mobile banking.
Given that around 50 per cent of its population remain unbanked, the initiative of the Government to allow non-bank entities to set up ATMs and point-of-sale (POS) terminals is a bold step towards achieving the goal of extending facilities to people in distant parts of the country to settle their transactions without going to banks. According to Bangladesh Bank some private companies already have plans to install a large number of ATMs.
Moreover, Bangladesh Post has launched a new financial service named Electronic Money Transfer Service (EMTS), commonly known as Mobile Money Order Service.Presently 2811 post offices provide the EMTS which is covering all district, upazilla/thana and important/busy rural post office locations. All Electronic Money Transfer Service locations (post offices) are equipped with computer, internet connectivity and/or mobile phones which are used to send the issue or payment request to the server.
Another hallmark achievement of Vision 2021 and Digital Bangladesh is the Union Digital Centers (UDCs) functioning as Union Information Service Centers or UISCs. Stationed at the lowest tier of the rural local government system in local government offices (i.e., Union Parishad), UDCs are operating with the objective of taking servicing to rural citizens’ doorsteps. The services include, among others, mobile financial services, money and remittance transfers etc.
The 5,865+ Digital Centers – one within 4 km of every citizen in Bangladesh – now deliver over 150 services – both public and private –to an average 6.5 million+ underserved citizens at a much lower TCV (the time, cost and number of visits it takes citizens to access services) than before.
Police Stations (around 530) and other Public offices throughout the nook and corners of Bangladesh are most suitable and secure sites for the installation ATM Services points (point-of-sale (POS) terminals) for the benefit of the people around.
According to the survey, there is a demand of 15,379 more new ATMs by the banking sector alone all over the country in the upcoming years. But huge investment is needed in this regard. Proper budget allocation and policy support should be ensured which includes rationalization of existing import tariff on Automated teller machine (ATM) H. S. Code 8472.90.10 Customs duty 5% + VAT 15%.
To attain the SDG Benchmark index 8.10.1 we therefore, most humbly request our Government to please-
1. Encourage and facilitate Banks, Non-Bank Entities, 2811+ Electronic Money Transfer Service (EMTS) of the Bangladesh Post offices and 5865+ Union Digital Centers (UDCs), Police Stations (around 530) and other Public offices to set up common and secure ATM Services points (point-of-sale (POS) terminals for completing whole range of financial transactions from cash withdrawal to cash deposit as the case may be.
2. Immediately classify Automated teller machine (ATM) H. S. Code 8472.90.10 as essential capital machinery with 1% Customs Duty and exempt from all other taxes including 15% VAT at import stage under section 19 and 20 (General power to exempt from customs-duties) of the Customs Act, 1969 and section 126 General power to exempt from VAT & SD) of the VAT and Supplementary Duty Act, 2012, in public interest, to streamline and strengthen inclusive growth of the economic and financial life line throughout Bangladesh.
This will have a multiplying chain effect on our rapidly developing economy expediting inclusive growth initiative all around Bangladesh, more ventures, more jobs, more skilled and efficient production chain, incremental income generation and GDP growth far outweighing the very insignificant revenue loss.
Dr. Joshoda Jibon Deb Nath, CIP, Managing Director of Technomedia Limited.