Benapole Customs House, the largest land port in the country, has incurred a deficit of Tk3,458.12 crore in the last financial year (2019-2020).
It has been lagging in revenue collection since the beginning of this year. On top of that, because of the Covid-19 outbreak, the revenue collection has come down to half. It happened as import from India through this route was closed for two and a half months at a stretch.
Customs sources said that the National Board of Revenue (NBR) had set a revenue target of Tk6,028.34 crore for goods imported from India through Benapole port in the 2019-20 fiscal year.
Later, the revenue target was revised to Tk5,995.75 crore. Against the target at that time, customs collected only Tk2,537.63 crore.
Here, the revenue deficit stands at Tk3,458.12 crore. At that time, 1.8 million tonnes of various goods were imported from India.
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 worth Tk4,040 crore was realised.
In the 2017-18 fiscal year, the revenue target was set at Tk4,195.88 crore. But the realised amount was Tk4,016.24 crore. At that time, the revenue deficit was Tk179.64 crore.
Niyamul Islam, additional commissioner of Benapole Customs House said that imports had been suspended for two and a half months for the Covid-19 outbreak.
"Besides, for increased transparency and accountability in the unloading of goods, some traders have reduced imports through this port. At the same time, for low import of high-duty goods, there has been a revenue deficit," he said.
Mofizur Rahman Sajan, president of the Benapole C&F Association, said that the lack of legal facilities in releasing goods was one of the reasons for the decline in imports.
"So, there is a deficit in revenue collection day by day. There was a revenue deficit from the early part of last year. This situation has arisen for lack of infrastructural development of Benapole port in proportion to the demand, and decline in imports of goods at high tariff rates," said Sajan.
The suspension of import for two and a half months caused the revenue deficit, said Sazzadur Rahman, former vice president of Jessore Chamber of commerce.
"In order to increase revenue from this route, the development of the port infrastructure has to be increased. Besides, many traders have lost their capital because of mysterious fire incidents in the port. They have left the port as the port authorities did not pay any compensation to them," added Sazzadur Rahman.
It is mentionable that 70 per cent of the goods imported through land ports are through Benapole land port because of the ease of communication.
Goods worth around Tk35,000 crore are imported through Benapole every year which provides around Tk5,000 crore as revenue to the government.
The imported goods include industrial raw material, readymade garments, chemicals, oxygen and various food items.