The National Board of Revenue has requested the Bangladesh Bank for uploading import documents on the central bank’s web site on real-time basis to prevent duty evasion by importers, ensure actual revenue collection and facilitate international trade.
Customs wing of the revenue board on January 8 made the request to the central bank governor Fazle Kabir for taking steps to ensure upload of detailed packing list, proforma invoice and commercial invoice on real-time basis.
In a letter signed by NBR member (customs policy) Md Lutfor Rahman, the customs authority said that detailed packing list, proforma invoice and commercial invoice were very important import documents for quick customs valuation and collection of the government’s estimated revenue.
But, there are allegations that some importers are evading duty and taxes by tampering with the documents collected from banks.
The revenue board in its primary investigation also found authenticity of the allegations of duty evasion through manipulation of import documents.
Currently, customs houses get real-time access to only the letter of credit (L/C) document in its Asycuda World system through the central bank.
Letter of credit documents only contain the total value of import or export while packing list and commercial invoice include details of products including quantity, weight, volume, description, type of packaging, unit value and total value, and other charges, details of importer and exporters, date and terms of sale, and other required information.
A high official of the NBR told New Age on Tuesday that importers collected the above-mentioned documents from banks and changed the information related to quantity and description of goods in the documents before submitting to the customs authority along with the bill of entry for assessment of duty and taxes.
In the process, they kept the price of imported goods unchanged as the price was also mentioned in the letter of credit but they change other information upward or downward to evade duties and taxes, he said.
He said that importers changed the description or quantity of high duty products into low duty products causing reduction in total tax incidence.
Customs officials did not have any option to check the authenticity of documents instantly, he added.
Officials said that the practices were causing risk in revenue loss as products on which the duty and taxes were applicable at higher rate were replaced with goods having tax at lower rate.
The customs houses had detected some cases of this malpractice, they said.
Customs officials will be able to thwart the malpractices of duty evasion along with ensuring speedy assessment of imported goods if the documents can be made available to them on real-time.
In this context, the NBR requested the central bank to take necessary steps so that customs officials can use the documents in read only mode and can print out the documents visiting Bangladesh Bank website using user ID and password.
So, it is required to instruct the AD branches of all commercial banks to take necessary steps so that customs officials can check the documents online instantly, said the letter of the NBR.
Customs wing also informed its field offices including customs houses about the decision of the NBR.
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