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Ahmed Shahin
Banned cars seized at country’s sea ports will not be given clearance permit (CP) any more, warned ministry of commerce.
A huge number of luxury and expensive cars are being imported through the sea ports illegally by a section of organised group. And many of these cars have also been seized by customs officials.
To stop such illegal trend of car importing, the commerce ministry has decided not to issue any further CP for the import of banned cars, which the customs officials seized and discharged through auction, a ministry source said.
The ministry will also not permit release of those cars which are imported free of duty under the Carnet-de Passage facility, he added.
Despite NBR’s request to issue CP for discharging the seized cars through auction, the ministry took such decision.
However, the ministry, earlier on 23 November 2016, passed a CP by issuing a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) for discharging 478 cars following a decision of government’s high-ups. NBR now is seeking another CP for discharging of those cars which were seized after this date.
As per the import policy 2015-18, under the HS heading from 87.01 to 87.04, the import of more than five-year-old cars is banned. But the cars, seized by the customs officials, are mostly worn out than those under this criterion, the ministry source said.
An NBR official concerned said despite a bar in the import policy they generally offer auction, as per the Customs Act-1969, for discharging the seized cars. But in line with this move, they have to take clearance permit from the commerce ministry.
The ministry source said recently a meeting was held headed by commerce secretary Shubhashish Bose where representatives of NBR, Tariff Commission, Bangladesh Bank and Bangladesh Reconditioned Vehicles Importers and Dealers Association (BARVIDA) were present.
In the meeting, Tariff Commission member Sheikh Abdul Mannan and executive director of BARVIDA ABM Mahbubul Hasan argued that if banned cars are allowed to discharge, it might raise discontent among real importers. That is why they urged the ministry not to issue CP for discharging of such cars.
Commerce secretary then said they would not allow discharge of those cars which were imported violating the import policy because it might raise the fraudulent tendency of importing banned worn-out cars.
When contacted to NBR member for customs policy, Firoj Shah Alam, he did not agree to speak on the issue immediately.
However, an official on condition of anonymity told this correspondent that they might sit with the ministry further to resolve the issue as the seized cars could be ruined if these remain undercharged.
The NBR source said some 350 luxury vehicles were imported in the country since 2010 with the Carnet-de Passage facility but of them 118 were not taken back, denying the customs law.
The owners mainly sold these cars, incurring a huge revenue loss of the government.
Apart from the Carnet-de Passage facility, many importers also brought many luxury cars evading duties.
Hence, the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID), conducting raids, have seized such 72 cars, in the last 2-3 years.
As per the section 7 of Customs Act-1969, the Carnet-de Passage car owners are required to inform the NBR after the end of their car using tenure. In this case, if they sell the cars to others they must submit the money to the government’s treasury.
NBR source said the tourists, mainly the different foreign organizations’ officials globally, can import cars with duty-free benefits under the two conventions — Customs convention on the temporary importation of private road vehicles-1954, and Customs convention on the temporary importation of commercial road vehicles, 1965.
However, at the meeting it was said that the country is not signatory to the two conventions; so this regulations are not applicable for the country. So, it was decided that the ministry would not issue CP for discharging any car imported through Carnet facility.
It was also said at the meeting that customs wing would collect a substantial amount of revenue if CP is issued for discharging the seized cars but they have to take decision for the greater purpose, as such tendency would affect the real car traders.
The NBR earlier urged the ministry to issue CP for selling the seized cars brought under the Carnet-de Passage facility to the bidders in the auction.