Tax rebate for Bangladesh companies hiring transgender people

Bangladesh has more than 200,000 transgender people, most of whom face discrimination and social ostracism, according to independent experts.

Transgender artists dance as they perform in a cultural programme at the National Museum in Dhaka [File: Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters]

Bangladesh has declared a tax rebate for companies hiring transgender people to boost the government’s social inclusion efforts for the marginalised group in the Muslim-majority South Asian country.

“I propose to enact special tax incentives with a view to providing employment and ensuring rise in living standards and social and economic integration of the members of the third gender,” Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal announced on Thursday, as he unveiled the national budget for the 2021-22 financial year.

Bangladesh has more than 200,000 transgender people, most of whom face discrimination and social ostracisation, according to independent experts. The government puts the number at 10,000.

Trans people in Bangladesh often resort to begging and the sex trade in order to survive, as most are forced to flee their homes due to bullying and harassment.

The minister said the companies would enjoy a five percent tax rebate or a refund of 75 percent of trans employees’ salaries if 10 percent of their total workforce, or 100 workers, were of the so-called “third gender”.

Bangladesh began allowing trans people, known as hijra, to legally register as third gender in 2013 and has provided support to the group since then.

Social inclusion can be ensured by involving people of this community into production-oriented occupations, said Kamal, who unveiled a $71bn national budget in parliament, aiming at saving lives and livelihoods amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government earmarked more than $44.6bn to finance health, education and technology, social welfare, public safety and defence, alongside other sectors.

It allocated an additional $26.59bn to implement infrastructure development in the next financial year beginning on July 1.

Source: DPA