Benapole Customs House, the largest land port in the country, failed to meet revenue collection targets in the last financial year (2020-21) due to various obstacles caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The port incurred a deficit of Tk2,144.62 crore against the revenue target of Tk6,244.62 crore that year.
The Benapole port witnessed a significant rise in revenue collection in the last fiscal year compared to the previous financial year. Revenue collection increased by Tk1,248 crore compared to the previous year.
Earlier, in the 2018-19 financial year, Benapole Customs House had a revenue deficit of Tk1,145 crore. The target for that financial year was set at Tk5,185 crore and revenue of Tk4,040 crore was realised.
It has been lagging in revenue collection for the last four years due to customs duty evasion and mismanagement, people concerned alleged.
In the 2019-20 financial year, Benapole Customs witnessed a deficit of Tk3,458.12 crore in the revenue collection, against the target.
Earlier, Benapole Customs House had a revenue deficit of Tk1,145 crore against the target of Tk5,185 crore in the 2018-19 financial year. And revenue worth Tk4,040 crore was realised that financial year.
In the 2017-18 fiscal year, the realised amount of revenue was Tk4,016.24 crore against the target of Tk4,195.88 crore. At that time, the revenue deficit was Tk179.64 crore.
However, the revenue collection was Tk45.40 crore more than the target in fiscal year 2016-17.
Mofizur Rahman Sajan, president of the Benapole C&F Association, said traders could not go to India for the last two fiscal years due to Covid-19 pandemic and could not import goods as per demand, causing a disruption in revenue collection.
Besides, many people have stopped trading through the land port due to lack of its infrastructural development in proportion to the demand, and decline in imports of goods at high tariff rates. This is also the reason for the revenue deficit in Benapole port for several years, he opined.
Aminul Haque, vice-president of the Benapole Import-Export Association, said Benapole Customs does not have all the necessary measures to check the standard of imported goods. It took more than a month to get tested from Khulna and Dhaka. It consumes huge time and traders have to count losses due to goods stuck in the port.
Many traders have left the port as their demand to set up the branch of Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) and Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) at Benapole Customs House has not been implemented yet. This is also a big reason for the decline in revenue for a long time, said the trader.
Importer Jahangir Hossain, proprietor of Pias International, said the security situation at the port is not satisfactory. Many traders have lost their capital because of mysterious fire incidents in the port that forced them to shut down their businesses.
Regarding the infrastructural development of the port, Benapole Port deputy director (Traffic) Mamun Kabir Tarafdar said land acquisition for warehouses, construction of new warehouses and development of roads in the port area were done. Besides, work is underway to install CCTV cameras to ensure security of imported goods.
Benapole Customs House additional commissioner Neyamul Kabir said adverse impact of Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in such a large revenue deficit. However, the revenue collection was higher than the previous year although the revenue target was not met in the last fiscal year.
Various punitie measures have been taken against those who tried to commit irregularities, including fines and cancelation of licenses, he also said.