The Anti-Corruption Commission has recommended that the National Board of Revenue ensure scanning of all export and import containers at sea and river ports along with other customs stations to prevent duty evasion and corruption in international trades.
The ACC also suggested conducting physical verification of all import and export goods until the revenue board could set up required numbers of scanner machines at ports including Chattogram port and other sea and river ports.
The country’s anti-corruption watchdog in a letter on November 4 made the recommendations to the cabinet secretary to prevent duty evasion and corruption occurred through releasing goods by making false declarations in close collaboration of customs and port officials.
The commission also sent the copies of the letter to the NBR chairman and secretaries of shipping and commerce ministries with a request of taking necessary measures in this connection.
In the letter, it said that the commission found the evidences of huge amount of duty evasion in imports through misdeclaration while investigating a complaint of duty evasion through the process.
‘Though a few cases of duty evasion can be detected, it cannot be possible to unearth most of such incidences,’ the ACC wrote.
Such incidences make the role of customs authorities questionable while the government is also deprived of proper amount of revenue, it said.
Taking some measures, including scanning of all import and export containers, are important to protect the government’s revenue and prevent corruption related to duty evasion, it added.
The ACC also said that the places of scanning and physical verification should come under the purview of close circuit camera system.
It is also necessary to appoint responsible official for surveillance and control of the activities, it said.
If necessary, the authorities concerned may collect the expense for carrying physical inspection of all containers from importers, according to the recommendation of the commission.
Officials of the revenue board said that they received a letter of the ACC in this connection.
The NBR, however, is yet to make any decision in this regard, they said.
They said that the revenue board had also decided to bring all export and import containers at all ports under scanning system.
It has already floated a tender to procure 14 more container scanners for an estimated cost of Tk 500 crore as the number of existing scanners is not adequate to scan all containers.
Customs authorities of the revenue board currently have only 11 scanners, including seven at the Chattogram port, two at Benapole land port and one each at Mongla port and Kamalapur Inland Container Depot.
The government in the budget for the current fiscal year 2019-2020 also 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, will 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.
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