NBR unveils plan to check duty dodging

Nojibur Rahman

The National Board of Revenue has strengthened its systems to curb duty evasion and money laundering through false declaration of imported goods.

The revenue authority installed the Asycuda World software at all customs houses and 10 land customs stations early this month, enabling officials to verify the value of declared goods. Test runs are being conducted.

“Now, our colleagues sitting at Benapole or Hilly port can see the products that are arriving in Chittagong and verify their declared value in real time,” Md Farid Uddin, member of NBR’s customs policy, said yesterday.

The move will help curb undervaluation of imported goods, which cause money laundering and revenue losses for the state, he said.

In another development, the NBR is set to introduce electronic letters of credit (e-LC) in association with Bangladesh Bank to prevent misdeclaration and LC frauds.

Unscrupulous traders resort to such devices to dodge duties, and the e-LC will enable the customs officials to verify the LCs submitted by importers with their respective banks online.

Customs officials will also be able to check declared products thanks to the e-LC, Uddin said.

“We will not give clearance to goods that were imported through misdeclaration. But we will take steps to quickly clear goods where there is no false declaration.” The NBR has also taken preparations to sign customs cooperation agreements with Bangladesh’s major trading partners, particularly China, the country’s biggest source of imports.

The move will enable customs officials to find out the exact value of the products in the countries from which they came.

The NBR has already prepared the draft and will soon forward it to the foreign ministry for the next course of action.

The tax authority also plans to introduce a risk management system which would allow compliant businesses to get quick release of goods and prevent non-compliant firms from duty dodging.

Under the scheme, the NBR will group importers as high, mid and low-risk categories. The move will reduce misdeclaration and ensure speedy service, he added.

The developments to curb duty dodging were shared at a press briefing at the NBR headquarters ahead of the World Customs Day.

The tax authority will observe Customs Day today along with 179 member countries of World Customs Organisation. Various programmes will be organised with the slogan ‘Coordinated Border Management: An Inclusive Approach for Connecting Stakeholders.’

The customs wing of NBR will hold a rally and discussion programmes at nine customs houses including Dhaka and Chittagong, said NBR Chairman Md Nojibur Rahman.

The NBR chairman said steps will be taken to create awareness among rural and urban people on the need to pay tax.

“We will encourage people to carry out their responsibility as citizens,” he added.