Import through Benapole land port of Jashore has dropped to almost half – 44,322 tonnes to be exact – in July compared to 81,370 tonnes in the same period of the previous fiscal (FY22) as the dollar market has been volatile, according to Benapole customs authorities.
Due to the crisis of the greenback amid the country's depleting foreign exchange reserves, the government raised the letter of credit (LC) margin to up to 100%, which also discouraged imports greatly.
"The central bank raised the LC margin in a bid to cope with the dollar crisis. Traders have reduced their imports as a result. Currently, they are importing only essential goods," Joint Commissioner of Benapole Custom House Abdur Rashid Mia said while talking to The Business Standard recently.
"All types of LCs are on the decline as LC margin has increased. Importers are failing to deposit cash for their LCs," said Md Azizul Islam, in-charge of Jashore corporate branch of Sonali Bank.
He hinted that the imports will decrease further in the ongoing month.
According to the Benapole Custom House, import through the land port in the recently concluded fiscal (FY22) also declined to 21.14 lakh tonnes from 26.44 lakh tonnes in the previous fiscal (FY21).
With the import decrease, the customs authorities saw a fall of Tk558 crore in revenue in FY22 against the annual target of Tk5,158 crore. In the first month of the current fiscal year, July, the authorities bagged Tk360.61 crore in revenue.
Talking to TBS, businesspeople said the imports might continue to decline in the next few months.
Nasir Uddin, joint secretary of the Benapole C&F Agent Association, said the traders of the two countries are interested in carrying out their export-import through Benapole land port for an easy transportation system.
"However, due to the dollar crisis, the government has imposed up to 100% margin conditions on LCs, which has made traders reluctant to open LCs. So, the imports fell in July."
He feared that the import would decrease further in August.
Director of India-Bangladesh Landport Import-Export Committee Matiar Rahman and former President of Jashore Chamber of Commerce Mizanur Rahman Khan echoed the same.
They added that the situation will not improve until the dollar market becomes stable.