Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said on Thursday the customs department under the National Board of Revenue (NBR) would act as an important tool to turn the country into 'Smart Bangladesh'.
"Bangladesh Customs will help to turn Bangladesh into a smart developed country by 2041 under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina," he said.
The Finance Minister said these while giving a video message at a seminar on World Customs Day held at a city hotel organised by the National Board of Revenue (NBR).
Kamal said the government of Sheikh Hasina is working relentlessly to collect more revenues through modernization and simplification of the process and also to ensure trade facilitation.
He mentioned that due to the various steps of the government, the revenue collection crossed Taka 3 lakh crore which is six times higher than the revenue collected in 2008.
Presided over by NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President Md Jashim Uddin spoke on the occasion as the special guest.
NBR member (customs, audit, modernization and international trade) Dr Abdul Mannan Shikder gave the address of welcome while NBR member (Md Masud Sadiq) presented the key-note paper.
NBR member (VAT policy) Zakia Sultana and CEO of HSBC Bangladesh Md Mahbub ur Rahman also spoke on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, the NBR chairman said that in line with the government's vision for turning Bangladesh into a smart country, the NBR wants to build 'smart customs' which is also a priority of the revenue board.
He said that work on the National Single Window (NSW) is still going on and it is the target of the NBR to deliver customs services to the businesses in less time with less cost.
Muneem expressed his strong resolve to turn Bangladesh's customs department into 'paperless customs'.
Highlighting some of the NBR's forward-looking initiatives, he said that the NBR wants to train more the customs department officials to enhance their skills and also to leave behind a business-friendly customs system for the next generation.
The NBR chairman opined that it is very much necessary to bring other institutions related to the National Singe Window (NSW) under automation to ensure full-fledged modernization in customs management.
Noting that the NBR realizes around 85 per cent of the government's total revenue collection, he said that the cost of revenue collection by the NBR is still low compared to other countries of the world as it is 0.21 per cent which is 0.6 per cent in India, 0.71 per cent in Singapore, and 1 per cent in Germany and Malaysia.
"This doesn't mean that we've lacking in our efforts. We realize more revenues through utilizing lesser resources," he added.
Lauding the NBR for its increased use of technology, FBCCI President Md Jashim Uddin said that the revenue board needs to use technology more comprehensively.
He cited that the size of the country's economy reached $465 billion which was only $90 billion back in 2008 thanks to the widespread successes and initiatives of the NBR.
"Now the time has come to make the revenue board more transparent. We want to see 'Smart NBR' in our 'Smart Bangladesh'" he added.
Jashim said in order to ensure smooth LDC graduation by 2026, attain the SDGs by 2030 and be a smart developed country by 2041, there is a need to mobilize more resources, export diversification, industrialization and improvement in the ease of doing business index.
He suggested that the revenue board should speed up the process for setting up Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFDs) to discourage uneven competition among businesses, diversify the exportable items and markets, give protection to the local industries, promote the 'Made in Bangladesh' initiative and the backward linkage industry.
Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Kunio Mikuriya gave a video message at the seminar.
The NBR chairman along with the FBCCI president and other NBR members distributed WCO certificates of merit to the officials of NBR and other institutions for their performances in the respected fields.
Besides, recognition was given to some nine authorized economic operators.