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Ahmed Shahin
A section of unscrupulous traders in association with a syndicate of Cargo and Freight (C&F) agents, is importing iron and iron metals by evading duty, thus making the government incur a huge revenue loss, a source said.
Some dishonest customs officials are also involved with the syndicate helping them discharge their goods without checking. And to continue the whole process rampantly, the importers provide a big amount of bribe to the syndicate members, the sources said.
The syndicate is continuing their misdeeds at the country’s two sea ports, mainly at Mongla sea port, the source said.
There are some 60 to 65 types of iron metals including GI Sheets, BP Sheets, Electro-galvanized, and Cold Rolled Steel being imported through Chattogram sea port.
The imported iron and iron metals vary in terms of length and thickness, which the customs authority uses to determine duty. Customs authority, however, considers 10 percent additional weight against the declaration provided for the import of such goods, Customs officials said.
Besides, the weight of such imported goods is also measured in the customs-check to determine duty.
But the unscrupulous traders import twice the declared weight and, to a great extent, import such grades of goods under the guise of lower grade declaration, as they have to pay higher amount of duty, the source said.
Almost all importers are involved in declaring lower weight against the actual weight while discharging their consignments from customs-checks. Some customs officials, in this case, help them discharge those consignments without verifying the accuracy of the declared weight by taking bribe from them, he said.
The government has to lose hundreds of crores in revenue money due to this fraudulent practice, he added.
FBCCI president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin told Bangladesh Post, it is the duty of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to ensure good governance at all customs points.
“Due to this fraudulence the country’s bonafide traders have to face uneven competition in the local market, and the government has to lose a huge amount in revenue simultaneously,” he said.
“It’s clearly a criminal offence, and the authority concerned should take serious action against such evaders,” he added.
The scenario of misdeeds is more appalling at Mongla seaport as the syndicate helps many corrupt traders discharge their iron or iron metals at Harbaria point of the sea, instead of at the main jetty.
The importers thus supply those metals to different regions of the country and evade government revenue through duty evasion.
Besides, many importers can manage to discharge their metals without weighing at customs checkpoints, a required part of customs checking.
The source said, the unscrupulous customs officials in this case, play the key role to continue this misdoing and take big amounts in bribe from the importers.
Most of the iron and iron metal importers are operating their businesses concealing information of their original business premises, he said.
Such fraudulence would ultimately take the country’s iron and steel producing factories to the verge of destruction as they would have to face unequal competition in the local market.
However, when contacted, Kazi Habibur Rahman (Habu), senior vice president of Bangladesh Iron and Steel Importers Association, told Bangladesh Post over phone that he did not know whether any importer was involved in such fraudulence.
“We are conducting all of our import procedures under the process of customs-checking,” he claimed.