CHATTOGRAM, Jan 21: Chittagong Customs House will introduce Pre-Arrival Processing System (PAPS) to expedite the flow of trade as well as check smuggling of contraband goods into the country through the Chittagong Port.
The PAPS will come into effect on July 1, 2019. And the present system in which the Import General Manifest (IGM) and Bill of Entry (BE) are to be submitted will cease to exist from the day one of the upcoming financial year (2019-20).
National Board of Revenue Member (customs audit, modernisation and international trade) Khondakar Md Aminur Rahman disclosed this at a view exchange meeting with the stakeholders at the Chittagong Customs House auditorium on Sunday.
He said under the PAPS, the importers will require to submit their IGMs as soon as a vessel with import consignments leaves the port of departure.
Likewise, the air waybill will need to be submitted as soon as the flight with cargo leaves the airport of departure, he said, adding that the new system will also save time for importers.
"By 2020, we want to take the customs department to such a level that everybody will be compelled to say Bangladesh is a place in which doing business is good and easy. We like to promote trade facilitation further."
Mr Aminur spoke as the chief guest in the meeting while another Member of the NBR Md Nasir Uddin was present as special guest.
Commissioner of Chittagong Customs House Dr AKM Nuruzzaman, additional commissioner Kazi Md Ziauddin, general secretary of the Customs C&F Agents Association Altaf Hossain Bachchu, director of Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association (BAFFA) Khairul Alam Sujan and director of Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association (BSAA) Shahed Sarwar attended the meeting.
Mr Aminur said, "The volume of import is growing day by day. At the same time, our capacity is also growing. So, the Chittagong Customs House and its stakeholders need to take preparations from now on."
"We have already taken up a project involving Tk 24 billion (Tk 2400 crore) for the implementation of customs modernisation scheme. Under the project, we are going to install fixed scanner machines at all 12 gates of the Chittagong Port by June 2020," he added.
"Trade facilitation is the demand of the day. We must take the customs' trade facilitation onward. To this end, we have a lot of projects which have been placed in A, B and C categories," he said.
"The A category projects are those which have been implemented. The B category projects are set to be implemented within next two or three years while the C category projects will be implemented with the financial support of our development partners, such as USAID, World Bank and Asian Development Bank."
Mr Aminur further said the website of the customs has been re-designed. The site might have some lapses or gaps, but the stakeholders can get a lot of necessary information from it.
C&F Agents Association leader Altaf Hossain Bachchu said the Chittagong customs house and the C&F agents must work jointly in promoting trade facilitation.
He alleged that hundreds of fake licences are being issued but the real businesses are not getting the C&F licenses
Such a trend must be stopped for the sake of interest of businesses, he said.
Chittagong Customs Commissioner Dr AKM Nuruzzaman said the Chittagong Customs House is committed to enhance trade facilitation which is being done every day.
"Only revenue earning is not our main goal. We are also working to check money laundering and prevent entry of contraband items, including arms and ammunition, into the country from abroad," he said.
He also said Chittagong Customs House has its own plans which they are working on. They need to be expanded and various activities will be expedited.
Unstuffing work will also be done in two shifts under the plan, he added.