National Board of Revenue has, in principle, decided to allow setting up private inland container depot under Dhaka Customs House to ease congestion at air cargo village at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
NBR has asked Dhaka Customs House to frame a policy on licencing, conditions and other relevant issues of private ICDs, also known as off-dock or air freight station.
A senior customs house official last week told New Age they had already finalised the draft of the policy and had submitted to Dhaka Customs House commissioner Md Moazzem Hossain to place before NBR.
He said that they finalised the draft after consultation with stakeholders, including the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Biman Bangladesh Airlines and the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh.
NBR took the move after Bay Cargo Centre Limited, a private cargo company, on April 2018 made an application seeking NBR permission to set up off-dock and provide other related services, including warehousing of import-export goods.
NBR then formed a committee headed by NBR commissioner Fakhrul Alam to analyse the application and give their opinion on the application.
The committee recommended giving permission to private sector organisations to set up off-dock at suitable locations in Dhaka, Gazipur and Narayanganj to reduce pressure on airport warehouse and quick disposal of import and export through airport and facilitate trade.
ICD or off-dock is a facility under which private sector operators are allowed to stuffing and unstuffing export-import containers at outside of the port area.
Currently, there are a number of ICDs under Chattogram Customs House which mainly deals with export containers along with 37 low risk import items having low duty rate.
At ICDs, private operators are allowed to store the selected import items, empty containers, handle all export containers, and conduct customs clearance formalities and unstuffing import consignments and stuffing of export consignments in presence of customs officials.
The committee in the draft policy has included various issues including conditions for licence, distance of off-dock from airport, nature of activities of off-dock if established inside the economic zones, revenue security, assessment process, types of goods to be allowed to be handled at off-docks.
The draft report also said that the licencing would be open for all but NBR would select the number of off-docks.
Referring Japan International Cooperation Agency study, Bay Cargo Centre, located at Bay Economic Zone at Kaliakoir, Gazipur, said that around 40 per cent of imported goods lay under open sky due to shortage of space at cargo complex at HSIA.
The capacity of air freight warehouse of Biman is 2 lakh tonnes but it handles around 3 lakh tonnes annually.
Export import through HSIA is rising on an average 9 per cent but space remained limited.
There is also mismanagement in handling the import consignments causing loss or theft of cargo. There are also lack of manpower and equipment for cargo handling compared to volume of cargo.
Permission to setting up off-dock will help ease congestion and security concerns and facilitate quick clearance of imported items, it claimed.
Movement of trucks and covered vans containing import export goods also cause traffic jam in Dhaka city.
The private operator will transport the goods after midnight to and from off-dock which will be established outside of Dhaka airport.
The operator will carry the goods directly from airport to off-dock by bonded truck and will be able to release the goods on the same day whereas it takes around 6-7 days for the clearance of the imported items from HSIA.
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