The National Board of Revenue has taken a move to apprise finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith about the business community’s stance against introduction of electronic seal and lock, an e-tracking technology, on export-import containers in Chittagong as the authorised private company is pushing for an extension of the contract.
Officials said that the revenue board took the decision as all the major trade bodies and associations had strongly been demanding abolition of the rules of the NBR for mandatory use of e-tracking technology on containers stuffed with export and import goods for both way transportations from the Chittagong Port to private inland container depots (ICD).
The NBR needs a decision of the government whether the rules would be scrapped or the private company would get an extension for providing the service or any next course of action, they said.
A summery in this connection would be sent soon, they added.
The Electronic Seal and Lock Services Rules-2017 came into force in January 19, 2017 and the US-based Alif Corporation got approval for providing the service for one year up to January 18, 2018.
Chittagong Customs House in last November and December fixed dates thrice to inaugurate the technology. But the programme has been postponed amid the emerged situation.
Amid the development, Alif Corporation owned by an expatriate Bangladeshi, on January 8 in a letter to Muhith sought extension of the licence for another year as the effectiveness of the approval had already expired before introducing the technology.
Finance minister, however, directed on Alif’s letter to amend the rules to facilitate extension in favour of the company.
A high official of the NBR told New Age last week that almost all of the major trade bodies and associations including the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association in separate letters wrote to NBR demanding that the rules be scrapped.
Businesses claimed that introduction of e-tracking system is redundant and it would increase the cost of doing business in the country, said the official.
According to the rules, exporters and importers will have to pay Tk 600 per container or covered van or truck bound for Chittagong port from private ICDs, known as off-docks, and to ICDs from the port.
Traders will have to pay Tk 50 for every hour after first 48 hours for the service.
Traders will have to bear a huge amount of additional cost for the technology though they are currently using different types of low-cost technology to track their containers.
Exporters said that additional cost for the service would reduce their export competitiveness in global market and make their survival difficult as they have been facing various types of constraints in running the highly competitive market.
The NBR is trying to introduce the costly system in time when the government has been implementing various initiatives to reduce the cost of doing business and ensure ease of doing business.
Officials of the NBR said that finance minister opined in favour of extension of the contract with the Alif Corporation as he might not be aware of the opposition of business community.
The NBR would describe everything in details in the summery to be sent soon to the minister seeking his decision and next course of action on the issue, they said.
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