BENAPOLE: Benapole Customs House has fallen short of its targeted revenue by Tk 509 crore in the first six months of the current 2021-22 fiscal as the customs house collected about Tk 1,991 crore against a target of Tk 2,500 crore.
However, Tk 101 crore more was collected this time than the first six months of 2019-20 fiscal year. At that time the revenue collection target was Tk 1,889 crore.
Although imports have declined slightly compared to last year, exports have increased.
According to Benapole Customs sources, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has set a revenue target of Tk 6,245 crore for imported goods this year. Earlier, in the fiscal year 2020-21, the revenue target at Benapole port was Tk 6,244.62 crore. At the end of last fiscal year, Tk 4,143 crore was collected. Although the growth of revenue during the year was higher than other times, the deficit was Tk 2,057 crore.
Besides, the shortfall was Tk 3,392 crore against the target in 2019-20 fiscal year while it was Tk 1,145 crore in 2018-19 and Tk 179.64 crore in 2017-18.
Meanwhile, there are doubts in all sections about achieving the target of such a large amount this year. Experts said it is necessary to develop the infrastructure in customs and ports to expand trade in order to increase revenue, which is a long term prospect. Otherwise, it will never be possible to collect the expected amount of revenue.
The businessmen of India and Bangladesh are more interested in trade through this port due to the ease of communication. However, due to lack of necessary infrastructure, traders cannot import products as per the demand. And so, the revenue is declining continuously.
On the other hand, the traders are agitated as there is lack of infrastructure development for smooth trading. Indian traders have also stopped trading through this port due to mismanagement of Benapole port, said Sazedur.
“Again, Bangladeshi traders are being harassed in the name of illegal parking in India’s Kalitala and are being affected financially. That is why many traders avoid this port,” he explained.
If the infrastructure of Benapole port is developed and the harassment in India is stopped, even double the targeted revenue can be achieved, he said bullishly. An importer, Mamun Babu said, “They are extorting a large amount of money from the trucks carrying imported goods in the name of parking in Kalitala, India.”
As a result, it takes 1-2 months for these trucks to enter the country even after extortion. “You have to pay Rs 2,000 per truck per day. I am being forced to go to another port by reducing the import through Benapole port,” said this trader.
The security situation at Benapole port is not good enough. Importers have to guard their goods at the port at their own risk. Many traders have stopped their business due to the theft of goods from the port and repeated mysterious fire incidents.
This is why the customs authorities have been failing to meet the target of revenue collection on imported goods for the last 8-9 years, alleged the traders.
Matiar Rahman, director of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said it is natural for traders to be interested in import and export trade wherever they can.
He said there are many facilities in Chattogram port, so traders are inclined to import through that port gradually.
“In order to increase the revenue through Benapole port, it is necessary to ensure customs and legal facilities in the field of trade,” he added.
Azizur Rahman, commissioner of Benapole Customs House, said large amounts of money were being collected from traders by stopping vehicles carrying imported goods illegally only in Kalitala, India.
Besides, imports declined due to an increase in soybean extract exports through Benapole port in the last two and a half months, he said.
“Trade is not expanding due to lack of adequate facilities at Benapole port. As a result, meeting the revenue target has been uncertain for several years. Even so, in the first six months of this year, we collected more revenue than last year. The rate of growth is also high,” said the official.
But, despite all these allegations, no effective measures have been taken or are being taken to facilitate trade befitting two modern economies through this port.