National Board of Revenue will review the existing business process of bonded warehouse management system to make it conducive to an automated environment.
The task will be completed under the Bond Management Automation Project taken to ensure transparency and prevent leakage of the duty-free benefit through automating the bonded warehouse system.
Officials said that the project had already appointed an international consulting firm to review and redesign the bonded warehouse administration.
Australia-based T-TEK Ltd with local Synesis IT Ltd will conduct the activities and recommend an online-compatible bonded warehouse system under which export-oriented industries enjoy duty-free import of raw materials and capital machinery, they said.
The joint venture firm will also assist NBR in setting up hardware and software necessary for implementing the bond automation and establishing integration with other systems like Bangladesh Bank and customs houses, they said.
NBR every year offers duty-free import benefits worth at least Tk 30,000 crore to exporters on condition that they would export the finished goods to be produced using the raw materials.
In 2017, NBR took the Tk 81-crore project to replace the existing manual customs bond management system with an automated one.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association is the major stakeholder of Customs Bond Commissionerate as apparel makers enjoy the lion’s share of the duty-benefits under the system.
There are allegations that traders misuse the duty-free benefits through selling the raw materials including fabrics in the local market instead of producing goods for export as per conditions.
On the other hand, traders allege that they face hassle and harassment in getting bond licence and in audit process.
Under the project, all activities including providing and managing bond licence and managing utilisation declarations certificates for bond benefits will be done online.
It will ease the bond licensing process and reduce time and cost of doing business.
The automation of bonded warehouse will also protect local industries from the uneven competition created due to leakage of bonded raw materials.
Officials said that the bond management system was now running manually creating rooms for corruption, inefficiency, lack of transparency, and leakage of bonded goods.
BGMEA and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association issue UD certificate, which determines the entitlement/quota of raw materials for export goods, to its members, they said.
In many cases, the trade bodies later amended the previous UD certificates increasing the amount of entitlement of raw materials at much higher rate than the required raw
Bond officials cannot monitor and trace the amended UDs as they do not have online database.
The new system will be able to crosscheck the quantity of imported raw materials with the actual export of finished goods using the database of Bangladesh Bank, customs houses and CBC for detecting leakage of duty-free goods.
The project is scheduled to be completed by July, 2019.
But, NBR may seek another one and a half years as it could not launch the project on time and did delay in appointing consulting firm.