The National Board of Revenue has taken an initiative to procure 14 more container scanners for an estimated cost of Tk 500 crore to ensure scanning of all export-import consignments at all ports.
Scanning of all consignments will prevent duty evasion through discrepancies in declaration such as over and under-invoicing as well as strengthen security of the country.
The government, in the budget for the current fiscal year 2019-2020, incorporated a provision for non intrusive inspection in the Finance Act-2019 to bring all consignments under mandatory electronic scanning.
Under the provision, no consignments, unless exempted by official order, shall be cleared from customs control at any customs port or customs station without electronic scanning.
There is also a provision for clearing of consignments by performing physical examinations in the absence of an electronic scanning system.
Customs authorities of the revenue board currently have only 11 scanners, including seven at Chattogram port, two at Benapole land port and one each at Mongla port and Kamalapur Inland Container Depot.
Officials said that the number of existing scanners was not adequate to bring all containers under non intrusive inspection system.
Chattogram port has 12 gates to clear export-import consignments but only seven gates have container scanners.
A large portion of export and import containers are not scanned electronically, creating a loophole for duty evasion and leading to security threats, they said.
They said that customs authorities would be able to scan almost all consignments with modern electronic containers scanning system under which container-laded trucks or other vehicles would go through large scanning machines and customs officials would see the scan results on the computer monitor.
Scanners, not human, would inspect the goods inside containers, they added.
Customs officials usually would not carry out any physical inspection of containers, except for a small portion of the total consignments to be categorised as red by the risk management unit of NBR, they added.
Of the new 14 scanners, five would be installed at Chattogram port’s five gates which had no scanners and the other nine would be installed at other sea, land and air ports and major land customs stations, they added.
A senior customs official on Thursday told New Age that finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal had already approved the proposal of procuring the scanners with government fund.
Customs Modernisation wing of NBR will float tender this week for purchasing the scanners with two years maintenance services, he said.
He said that the tender process would be completed within the shortest possible time to speed up the implementation of the non-intrusive inspection system in the country.
The revenue board has also sought allocation of Tk 632 crore from the finance ministry for the project as there had been no allocation for the purpose in the current budget.
The revenue board has been trying to boost up non-intrusive inspection to reduce hassle for importers and exporters during physical examination of goods which cause delays in release of goods and wastage of time and money.
Finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has also said in many occasions that all containers would come under electronic scanning system.
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