POST TIME: 25 June, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Importers remain dissatisfied even after NBR relaxes AT payment

Importers remain dissatisfied even after NBR relaxes AT payment

Despite the National Board of Revenue's (NBR's) relaxation of the payment of 5 per cent advance tax (AT) for all products till June 30 through a circular on Thursday, importers are still reluctant to release their imported goods from the Chattogram port.

In the proposed budget for FY2019-20, 5 per cent AT has been imposed for 6,542 import products, instead of 5 per cent advance value tax (AVT).  After the announcement of the budget, some importers stopped releasing imported goods from the Chattogram Customs by paying the 5 per cent AT.

Following the deadlock, the NBR issued a letter on June 20, stating that 11 types of goods imported by the government, semi-government and autonomous bodies, UN entities, and foreign embassies can be released without paying the 5 per cent AT till June 30. But the exemption came with a rider: they had to give an undertaking on a non-judicial stamp worth Tk. 300 that they would pay the AT as per the law after the approval of the budget.

But the importers are still not releasing their goods, complaining that they did not find the NBR letter favourable. Under the circumstances, port users said there was a possibility of a container congestion developing at the Chattogram port.  

The port’s container capacity is 49,018 TUES (twenty-foot equivalent units), of which 37,620 TUEs are import containers and 11,398 TUEs export and empty containers.

The volume of import containers has overshot the capacity, reaching 38,874 TUEs recently.

Owing to the Eid vacation, the delivery of import containers was slow, but the reluctance of importers to release them due to the AT is aggravating the congestion.

Businessmen said the bill of entry for goods has dropped from a daily of 2,500 to 1,500 after the budget announcement.

Chattogram Custom commissioner Mohammad Fakrul Alam told The Independent: “We have requested all the importers and the C&F (clearing and forwarding) agents to release their goods to avoid demurrage by paying the legitimate customs revenue.”

Goalm Rabbani Regan, second joint secretary of the C&F Agent Association said: “The importers believe that the NBR notice does not go in their favour. They requested us not to submit the bills of entry for releasing the goods. As we wor for them, we have held on to those bills and are yet to submit those to the Customs.”

BGMEA vice-president AM Chowdhury Selim said: “If the importers face obstacles, they definitely will be discouraged. We have raised the issue with the NBR. The NBR issued a letter following our discussion, giving a temporary reprieve, but we want a permanent exemption of the AT. As the present government is businessmen- friendly, we hope it will consider the matter positively to encourage business. If imports fall, it will create unemployment in the country.”