The National Board of Revenue could not implement a cabinet decision on signing an international convention facilitating temporary import of goods even after 19 years of the decision due to a difference of opinion between two leading trade bodies in the country over control of the system.
The convention titled Istanbul Convention on Temporary Admission, known as ATA Carnet system, allows temporary import of goods, including commercial samples, professional equipment and products for presentation at fairs and exhibitions, without payment of duties and taxes on condition that the items would be taken back within a specific period of time.
The International Chamber of Commerce Bangladesh and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry both have been demanding for appointing them as the National Issuing and Guaranteeing Authority (NIGA) under the ATA Carnet.
The NIGA issues and endorses carnets, also known as passport for goods, in favour of importers and gives guarantees the payment of duties and taxes to customs authorities if carnet goods are sold or used domestically.
The revenue board could not finalise the NIGA over the years as the both trade bodies stood their ground and have been arguing strongly in their own favour.
The NBR on November 7 arranged a meeting with the representatives of the FBCCI and the ICC Bangladesh to finalise the NIGA but the attempt also failed.
Officials said that cabinet on July, 2000 approved in principle a NBR proposal on signing the Istanbul Convention on Temporary Admission, known as ATA Carnet system.
It also asked the revenue board to choose the trade body for appointing as NIGA following consultation with related trade bodies, commerce and industries ministers and taking recommendation of finance minister.
Since then the NBR could not reach a decision as the both trade bodies remained rigid regarding their demand, they said.
Sources informed with the development said that, like previous years, ICC Bangladesh president Mahbubur Rahman at the latest meeting argued that they first introduced the idea of ATA carnet to the NBR and popularise the system among the businesses.
Globally, ATA carnet system is jointly governed by World Customs Organisation and Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce under the Istanbul Convention.
As per global practice, local committee of the ICC is appointed as NIGA.
Other trade bodies get the authority if the country does not have any member body of ICC. The trade body is also required to take approval from and to be registered with ICC for issuing carnets, he said.
So, the ICC Bangladesh should be appointed as NIGA, he said.
FBCCI vice-president Md Siddiqur Rahman on Tuesday told New Age that the FBCCI as the national trade body should be appointed as NIGA as the trade body has network across the country.
Only the FBCCI has the institutional capacity to issue the carnets, he said, adding that there was also provision in the convention to appoint national trade body as NIGA.
He said that NBR chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan at the meeting said that they would finalise the decision after discussing the matter with the finance minister.
NBR officials said that they would primarily focus on commercial sample, exhibition goods and professional equipment for giving temporary admission permission if the ATA carnet was introduced.
Currently, traders bring such products by giving bank guarantee equal to the amount of duties and taxes under a statutory regulatory order.
Implementation of ATA carnet will make the procedures of temporary import easier and business friendly, they said.
Globally, 87 countries have implemented the ATA carnet system.
According to the ICC, a total of 1.85 lakh ATA Carnets were issued in 2017, covering goods valued at $26 billion.
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