The Clearing and forwarding (C&F) agents at the Customs House, Chattogram have demanded facilitation in taxation and trade of import and export consignments without any harassment or complications.
The Chattogram Customs Agents Association has sent letters on multiple occasions to M Fakhrul Alam, commissioner of Chattogram Customs House, in this regard pressing home an 8-point demand.
In the latest letter forwarded on 21 April, the organisation sought urgent instructions from the Customs House to keep up the trade activities.
The association also requested the Customs House to organise a joint meeting with the C&F agents on realising their demands.
Quazi Mahmud Imam Bilu, general secretary of the Chattogram Customs Agents Association, told The Business Standard, "On behalf of the organisation, I have sent a letter to the Customs House commissioner regarding some rational demands of the C&F agents. I hope the authorities will take initiative to fulfil the demands."
In the letter, it was mentioned that the lion's share of the country's import and export activities are conducted through the Chattogram port- the main seaport of the country.
More than 3,000 licensed C&F agents and more than 10,000 employees listed under the Customs House are involved in the activities.
But, it is becoming more and more difficult for the agents to continue their daily business due to a lack of action on some issues, which is causing unusual delays, harassment and complications in the process, the letter mentioned.
The letter urged the Customs House to remove ambiguities regarding structural changes or transfers of licences as per the Customs Agent Licensing Rules 2020.
C&F agents operating as partner companies and limited companies are facing unnecessary delays and complications in the renewal of licences even after obtaining proper approval from the Customs department, the letter stated.
Determining the Harmonised System (HS) code is one complex issue and the C&F agents are becoming the victims of unwarranted harassment over the issue in many cases, said the letter.
The letter further stated that the average time spent on chemical testing of a product is much longer and is causing cost overruns and delays in the unloading process.
If the physical examination could be started at 11 am and the report could be confirmed within the same day, the overall time for customs clearance and unloading of goods would be minimised by a lot.
To ensure uninterrupted export activities, the organisation urged the Customs House to deploy full-time customs officers at Off Dock- a customs bonded depot that stores full containers before it is cleared by the customer.
In addition, verification officers should be deployed at all the gates of the port during the delivery of goods, the letter mentioned.
When determining the taxable values of goods, the Chattogram Customs House in most cases determines relatively higher values than other customs houses in the country. This double standard of valuation is uneven, the letter said.
The C&F association urged the House to choose the lowest taxation values from the customs valuation software ASYCUDA World System's national database so that equality is ensured for importers using all customs stations across the country.
The letter also called for a coordinated measure by the government agencies concerned to resolve delays and complications in issuing clearances after inspection of goods by Jetty Customs' Audit Investigation & Research (AIR) and Customs Intelligence.
Demand to resolve the complexities created in importing goods worth more than the amount mentioned in the Import Registration Certificate (IRC) was also raised in the letter.
Chattogram Customs House Commissioner M Fakhrul Alam told The Business Standard, "We have undertaken various activities including e-payment to facilitate trade at the port. Even so, we need to find better ways to expedite trade and reduce costs. To this end, we will sit with the C&F agents after Eid."
Around 92% of the country's import and export trade is conducted through the Chattogram port. The Chattogram Custom House clears the goods unloaded at the Chattogram port and the Chittagong Airport.