The National Board of Revenue has widened the area of using electronic seal and lock, an e-tracking technology, in export and import containers to enhance security of the containers and prevent duty evasion.
The provision of using electronic seal and lock now will be applicable to all containers, cargos, covered vans, trucks, railway wagons, cargo vessel hatches engaged on both ways of transport of export and import goods, transit and transshipment products between customs ports and other customs stations, export processing zones and economic zones.
Customs wing of the revenue board on October 30 amended the Electronic Seal and Lock Service Rules 2018, widening the area of the rules.
The revenue board in June last year framed the rules, making it applicable to containers bound to the Chattogram port from private inland container depots (ICDs) and containers bound to ICDs from the Chattogram port.
According to the amended rules, the rules will now be applicable to both-way transports between all ports and customs stations, customs inland container depots, customs inland water container terminals, export processing zones and economic zones.
Trade bodies including the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry and all other major business organisations have been opposing various provisions, including the high rate of fees, in the rules.
The trade bodies on several occasions informed the revenue board that they were against any move of making the use of technology mandatory for export and import containers as it would increase the cost of doing business in the country.
Customs officials on November 6 told New Age that the revenue board was yet to make the rules mandatory.
The NBR has extended the area of the rules to make it aligned with the regulations regarding transit and transshipment between India and Bangladesh as the standard operating procedures of transit and transshipment have a provision of using electronic seal and lock technology, they said.
They said transports of Indian goods to its one part to another through Bangladesh would increase in future.
Use of electronic seal and lock will also prevent duty evasion particularly through preventing leakage of bonded goods, the officials said.
The NBR will require issuing special order for making the technology mandatory, they said, adding that the customs authorities would consider a number of issues including concerns of traders and preparedness of service providers before taking any further move regarding the issue.
A senior customs official said that only one firm named Alif Corporation applied to the revenue board to be enlisted as service provider after it issued the rules.
US-based Alif Corporation, owned by a Bangladeshi diaspora, which first in 2014 proposed the NBR introduce the technology, got the licence from the revenue board for providing the service based on build-own-operate method.
But no trader used the technology over the last one year, the official said.
According to the rules, exporters and importers will have to pay Tk 600 per container or covered van or truck or other modes of transport for the first 48 hours and then Tk 50 for every additional hour for the service.
The FBCCI on several occasions said that the introduction of such costly and time-consuming technology was irrational as exporters and importers were using various low-cost technologies to secure the containers while no incidences of theft and duty evasion occurred over the years in the way of container transports.
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