Revenue collection at Sonamasjid Land Port
- From July to January in FY2021
● Revenue collected: Tk324 crore
● Goods imported: 15.8 lakh metric tonnes
● Highest amount of revenue collected in January: Tk96.22 crore
- The total revenue collection at the port in previous years:
● Tk218.93 crore in FY2020,
● Tk301 crore in the FY2019
Imports of goods through Sonamasjid Land Port in Chapainawabganj have increased after the lockdown imposed due to the novel coronavirus has been lifted.
Hundreds of truckloads of goods are coming through the land port every day. As a result, revenue collection at the port has also increased as compared to the last few years.
Importers said they are able to unload goods easily as the quality of port services has increased and they do not face any harassment there.
According to the Sonamasjid Land Port, the government has collected around Tk324 crore revenue from the port in the first seven months (July to January) of FY2020-2021, which is Tk193 crore more than the revenue collected in the first seven months of FY2019-20.
The revenue collected through the land port in January of the current fiscal year was Tk96.22 crore, which was Tk37.11 crore in the same period last fiscal year.
The total revenue collected from the port was Tk218.93 crore in FY2019-20, and Tk301 crore in the FY2018-19.
Products imported through the land port include: stone, corn, bran, fruits, onion, rice, wheat, rice bran, ginger, and dried fish. The most imported of these is stone. Around 150 trucks of stone are imported through this port on an average per day.
In the first seven months of this fiscal year, 15.8 lakh metric tonnes of goods were imported through Sonamasjid Land Port, which was around 8.58 lakh metric tonnes in the same period of FY2019-20.
In the first seven months this fiscal year, 9.86 lakh metric tonnes of stone was imported, while around six lakh metric tonnes of stone was imported through the land port during the same period in the last fiscal year.
According to the relevant sources, the import and export of goods was stopped in April and May of the fiscal year 2019-20 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although imports and exports resumed in June, they were not fully launched due to some restrictions on the import and export of goods.
However, it started in full swing from July of the fiscal year 2020-21 and the highest amount of goods were imported in January this year.
Imports of goods have been gradually increasing over the last seven months and revenue has also been increasing. Local customs officials claimed that if the Covid-19 situation becomes normal, the revenue collection target will be achieved every month at Sonamasjid Land Port.
They claimed that the revenue collection at the port is increasing as a result of the supervision and strict surveillance of the customs officials. The quality of service at the customs station has improved. Additionally, the customs authorities have taken various measures to increase import-export and prevent revenue evasion.
A quarter of opportunity-seeking importers and clearing and forwarding (C&F) agents always try to evade revenue. They make particular attempts to evade revenue through false declarations.
A programme to temporarily cancel the licenses of clearing and forwarding agents involved in irregularities in the import-export of various products has been going on for the last seven months, said the port officials.
Mominul Islam, assistant commissioner of customs at Sonamasjid Land Port, said they were making efforts to increase imports and exports by creating a conducive environment for revenue growth.
He further said political squabbles and disagreements among some local traders hamper the import and export of goods, which often make an impact on revenue growth.
Abdul Awal, president of the Sonamasjid Land Port C&F Agents Association, said the job of C&F agents is to assist importers in unloading goods from the customs. That means, the customs station unloads the goods through C&F agents. This is why the agents have to get a license from the customs. Only those who get a customs license are members of the association.
The association currently has 100 members. There were 104 more members whose licenses have not been renewed by customs, because they were charged with different allegations.
Abdul Awal further said, "A group of clearing and forwarding agents occupied the land port for a long time. They did not let us hold any election at the association. As a result, importers faced various forms of harassment and inconvenience. They had to pay a fee to unload their goods. Many importers have left the port because of this. However, the situation has returned to normal after we were elected."
"Revenue has also increased. We have been able to assure importers that they will not have to pay extra money except customs duty on the import of goods. All kinds of cooperation is being given to increase trade and commerce," he said.
However, Abdul Awal complained that the cost of importing and exporting goods through Sonamasjid Land Port is increasing more than that in other ports as the service charge here is being increased at a rate of 5% every year. Importers and exporters are also losing interest in using this port due to lack of improved services and heavy equipment.
The service charge is increasing as private companies are given the responsibility to operate the port through public-private partnerships. He said a letter has been sent to the port authorities to reduce the charge.