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Modernising customs dept

Trade deals with potential countries to be advanced

Doulot Akter Mala | August 11, 2019 12:00:00

The tax authority has prepared a four-year plan to modernise the customs department and rationalise customs fees.

Under the Strategic Action Plan, the customs wing will review the existing customs fees and charges while ensuring these are commensurate with the administrative costs of providing services.

The plan for 2019-22 has targeted time-bound action to modernise the customs wing and strengthen bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.

Trade facilitation and investment, customs, development of human resources, revenue and the national security are major objectives of the action plan.

The action plan will be implemented by the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and other relevant government agencies.

The board prepared the plan with support from the Bangladesh Investment Climate Fund of the International Finance Corporation.

The plan, which is a continuation of the 2014-17 version of the customs department, is also aligned with that of the World Customs Organisation.

A senior customs official said many of the existing fees and charges are lower than the government's expenditures for providing the services related to import and export.

He said the fees need to be revised upward in line with the incorporation of advance technology and simplified services of the customs.

Currently the customs wing collects fees and charges for various types of services including transshipments, advance ruling, container scanning, laboratory test, document processing, issuance of different certificates and duplicate customs documents, correction of clerical errors, etc.

The existing transshipment fees under Inland Waterways Protocol between India and Bangladesh is Tk 180 per tonne of goods. Of the fees, the document processing fee is Tk 10, transshipment fee Tk 20, security charge Tk 100 and escort charge Tk 50 in applicable cases.

The fee for issuance of certificates and duplicates of customs document has been set at the highest Tk 20.

For bilateral, multilateral and regional integration and partnership, the plan will review the existing potential trade agreements and set up a support system for trade negotiations.

The customs wing will develop and strengthen bilateral customs cooperation arrangements with the countries considered strategically important.

It will strengthen international coordination relationship with the world customs body, the World Trade Organisations, the International Air Transport Association, the United Nations, Interpol, etc.

The customs will also focus on developing relationships with the regional organisations such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation, the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal Initiative, the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement, etc.

By December this year, the customs wing will complete review of the existing customs rules and regulations to identify gaps in the regulatory framework and strengthen those.

An independent planning wing for the customs will be established by 2019-21 designating manpower from that department.

By June 2019, the customs wing was supposed to maintain and upgrade non-intrusive inspection technology in all airports, major sea ports and border points.

The customs will also establish an image analysis laboratory for inspection.

An electronic infrastructure will be developed for archiving the inspection data and interfacing the data with the risk management software.

Through the plan, the customs wing will develop the capacity of the customs officials in areas such as valuation, risk management, and post clearance audit over the next six months.

The customs will also develop the capacity to deal with the Intellectual Property Rights, Transfer Pricing and money laundering issues.

The capacity of customs training academies, both in the city and other regions, will be developed under the plan.

The customs will seek assistance of the development partners to impart training to operate different advanced equipment and devices.

The wing will prepare an integrated plan to construct buildings for each of the custom houses equipped with modern equipment and devices.

It will also equip the chemical laboratories to conduct each type of chemical, mechanical and standard analysis.

Under the plan, the customs authority will prepare plan to establish laboratories in all custom houses and 16 land customs stations.

By December 31, 2020, the customs wing will introduce e-filing of documents in all customs houses and land ports.

Some modules including risk management, audit, agent licensing, e-auction, e-learning and valuation will be prepared as a part of the introduction of customs e-environment plan.

The customs will ensure e-payment of all fees, charges, duties and taxes by December 31, 2020.

According to the plan, the customs wing will enact the customs law immediately and translate it in English.

The customs wing will implement pre-arrival processing of cargos and risk-based clearances in all customs stations and land ports.

By December 2019, the customs wing will also draft and implement the procedures of speedy clearance of cargos and shipments of perishable goods.

To facilitate cross-border trade, the customs will introduce a coordinated border management system by integrating Chittagong Customs House, Dhaka Customs House, Inland Container Depot and Benapole Custom House.

Trade-related activities will be conducted in a coordinated manner by customs and other border agencies through the system.

The NBR and other border management agencies will implement the plan by December 31, 2022.

For passenger facilitation, the customs wing will introduce advance passenger information and other passenger control measures at the international airports.

It will also develop infrastructure facilitates for passengers in all exit and entry points of the country by December 31, 2021.

The customs wing will review the existing legal framework for bonded warehouse facility and modernise it by introducing bonded warehouse module.

The module will be integrated with the Bangladesh Bank, the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority, the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA), garment sector associations and the ASYCUDA world system of customs.

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