The US Coast Guard has suggested that the Chattogram Port Authority ensure by October a full-scale scanning system of the US-bound export containers as part of implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code.
National Board of Revenue officials said all US-bound export containers would have to be scanned at the port from November this year.
A three-member team of the US Coast Guard made the suggestion during a two-day visit to the port in August 25-26 to assess the progress of implementation of ISPS code.
The ISPS code, developed by the International Maritime Organisation after the 9/11 attacks in the United States, is a set of comprehensive measures for enhancing security of ships and port facilities.
The CPA has already informed the shipping ministry and the National Board of Revenue about the US Coast Guard’s suggestion and requested them to take necessary measures in this connection as the Chattogram Customs House does not have enough scanners to do the job.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association has also expressed its concerns over the issue.
BGMEA senior vice-president Faisal Samad in separate letters requested the revenue board and the commerce ministry to take effective measures as soon as possible for installing two scanners at the port for the sake of speedy completion of export and import activities by readymade garment exporters.
Export consignments enter the CPA premises through three dedicated gates, known as export gates. The CCH is now installing a scanner at the CPA gate-1 and there is no scanner at the remaining two gates.
The Chattogram port has 12 gates to clear export and import consignments.
Both the CPA and the BGMEA requested the authorities concerned to install scanners at the remaining two export gates on emergency basis so that Bangladesh’s exports to the US market were not hampered.
The US is the single largest export destination of Bangladesh with export earnings worth $6.87 billion in last fiscal year of 2018-2019, according to the Export Promotion Bureau data.
Of the export earnings, readymade garment export accounted for more than $6 billion.
Customs officials said that the revenue board had taken steps to install another scanner immediately at the port to conduct scanning of export consignments.
A team of customs officials led by NBR member (customs audit, modernisation and international trade) on October 16 visited the port to select the place for installing the scanner, they said.
Hopefully, installation would be completed by October, they said, adding that the customs would be able to scan all export consignments bound to the US through the two scanners.
Later, the third gate would also come under the scanning facility as the revenue board has taken an initiative to procure 14 more container scanners with an estimated cost of Tk 500 crore to ensure scanning of all export-import consignments at all ports.
The NBR on October 7 floated tender to procure the scanners, a senior official said.
It will take few months to complete procurement process following public procurement rules, he said.
The NBR is also looking for alternatives to purchase at least a scanner as soon as possible for bringing all export consignments under the scanning process, he added.
Scanning of all export-import consignments is also important for the country as it will prevent duty evasion through misdeclaration such as over- and under-invoicing and strengthen security of the country.
Currently, customs authorities of the revenue board have only 11 scanners, including seven in Chittagong port, two in Benapole land port and one each in Mongla port and Kamalapur Inland Container Depot.
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