In the first five months of the current 2020-2021 fiscal year, Benapole customs has suffered a Tk1,000 crore revenue deficit.
During the time, the revenue target was Tk2,508.88 crore, and Tk1,509.79 crore was received against the target. A larger revenue deficit is feared at the end of the year, said sources concerned.
Meanwhile, six C&F licences have been cancelled and three customs officers have been sacked on charges of tax evasion.
In the 2019-20 fiscal year , Benapole Customs had a revenue deficit of Tk3,392 crore against the target.
The revenue target for the current 2020-21 fiscal year has been set at Tk6,244.62 crore, said Didarul Islam, assistant revenue officer of the Benapole Customs House.
In the 2018-19 fiscal year, Benapole Customs House had a revenue deficit of Tk1,145 crore against a target of Tk5,185 crore.
The revenue target for the 2016-17 financial year was Tk4,195.88 crore. The collection was Tk4,016.24 crore, with a deficit of Tk179.64 crore.
The C&F agents facing licence cancellation are Remu Enterprise, Talukdar Enterprise, Asia Enterprise, Mahibi Enterprise, Sunny Enterprise, Medina Enterprise, Mukti Enterprise, and Rianka Enterprise.
The customs officials expelled on charges of revenue evasion are Revenue Officer Nashedul Islam as well as Assistant Revenue Officers Ashadullah and Ibn Noman.
According to Benapole Customs sources, for the last few years, it has not been possible to meet the revenue target at the port due to an increase in imports of goods through false declarations.
Alongside customs and port officials, the traders have evaded customs in various ways. Last month, customs officials revoked six C&F licences and issued show cause notices to four C&F traders for alleged tax evasion.
In addition, three customs officials have been suspended for allegedly assisting tax evasion. However, even though a few people have been caught, most of the corrupt people are out of reach. As a result, the import of goods through customs evasion is going on unabated.
Explaining the reasons behind this year's deficit, Benapole Customs Additional Commissioner Md Niyamul Islam said, "Firstly, imports were stopped two-and-a-half months due to the pandemic. Moreover, some traders reduced their imports through this port due to increased transparency and accountability in unloading goods. At the same time, lower imports of high-duty goods also contributed to the revenue shortfall."
Mofizur Rahman Sajan, president of the Benapole C&F Association, said one of the reasons behind the decline in imports was the lack of legal facilities in unloading of goods. As a result, revenue is declining over time. There was a revenue deficit from the beginning of last year. This situation is due to a lack of development of Benapole port it deserves and reduction in imports of goods at high tariff rates.
Mizanur Raman Khan, former president of the Jashore Chamber of Commerce, said imports were suspended in the first two-and-a-half months of the current financial year which is the main cause for the revenue deficit.
"In order to increase revenue, the development of port infrastructure is a must. Further, many traders have lost their capital in repeated incidents of mysterious fires in the port. They left the port as they were not paid any compensation," he added.
Due to the easy communication system, 70% of the goods imported by land in the country come through Benapole Port. Goods worth Tk35,000 core are imported through this port every year, contributing revenue worth Tk5,000 crore.
The imported products include industrial raw materials, ready-made garments, chemicals, oxygen, and various food items.