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Businesses fail to take advantage of customs automation

02 October 2022

Al Amin :
Businesses are failing to take advantage of the e-payment system introduced to facilitate faster duties and taxes payment for importing goods.
Importers' unwillingness, fund crisis from traders' end, uninterrupted ASYCUDAWorld systems, lack of document submission booths of port authorities, limitation of bank-hour and non-automation of other relevant government agencies are the major reasons behind it.
Partha Pratim Barua, Executive Committee Member of Chattogram C&F Agents' Association, told The New Nation, "The E-payment system is good initiative of the NBR for quicker release of imported goods. But, we are failing to take advantage of it due the lack of uninterrupted ASYCUDAWorld systems and the limitations of bank-hour are making us difficulties to pay duty and tax on time." The average time required paying duty and taxes are around two to three minutes. But the importers take 13 to 22 days for the payment, officials of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) said.
The low warehousing charges of Benapole also contribute to the time taken for duty payment over 22 days in contrast the minimum time required is 10 minutes.
Among four types of commodities, pharmaceutical consignments take the highest time for paying duty and taxes and followed by food and capital machineries.
Raw materials of readymade garment take the lowest time due to the importers are bonded warehouse facilitated.
The officials said the importers often delay in making the required payment, especially in the case of large payments, due to the unavailability of funds at their end.
Lack of automation in assessment and examination process, absence of a proper risk management system leading to excessive consignment examinations, scarcity of human resources and lack of adequate knowledge of HS classification and valuation are also the key factors impacting the release time, they said.
Amongst the processes managed by the port authority, the highest time is taken from arrival of aircraft to air waybill (AWB) hardcopy submission - 16 hours 57 minutes (maximum time 9 days 3 hours, minimum time 5 minutes), they added.
The other significant stages include obtaining permission for delivery of goods and exit number generation, which account for 2 hours 2 minutes and 1 hour 39 minutes, respectively.
From aircraft arrival to AWB hardcopy submission, it takes, on average, 16 hours and 57 minutes. This time includes goods unloading and warehousing, and time taken by the importer to collect the signed hardcopy of AWB.
In case of exit number generation, the average time taken is 1 hour 39 minutes (maximum time 1 day 20 hours 40 minutes).
According to FGD, inadequate booth for submitting payment documents is a major factor that contributes to this delay.
Besides, it takes nearly 5-7 days to submit B/E hardcopy and other relevant documents to the Customs. Importers mentioned that they need a set of permissions/approvals from different authorities (Bank, BGMEA, CCI&E) for assessment purposes.
The current operation hour for the Real-time gross settlement (RTGS) gateway poses a problem for payment and subsequent actions.
Currently, RTGS payments cannot be made after 5:00 pm. As a result, importers have to wait for the next business day to make the e-payment through RTGS.
There is also another option to make payment. But for that, importers need to have accounts with the Sonali bank, and such an obligation hinders seamless payment for import procedures, the officials said.
The revenue board made a mandatory electronic system for payment of customs duty, fees and charges above Tk 2 lakh on all import and export products from July 1, 2021 at all customs houses and land customs stations and payment for all duties and taxes irrespective of amount from January 1, 2022.

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