Import-export, revenue collection at Benapole
- In FY 2018-2019, target was Tk5,185 crore
- Collection was Tk4,040 crore
- Deficit was Tk1,145 crore
- In FY 2017-2018, target was Tk4,195.88 crore
- Collection was Tk4,016.24 crore
- The deficit was Tk179.64 crore
- Around 88.89 lakh tons of goods imported in last 5 yrs
- Around 18.72 lakh tons exported over the period
Imports and revenues at Benapole Land Port in Jashore, the largest of its kind in the country, have suffered a big blow due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
After the first 10 months of fiscal year 2020-2021, the revenue deficit was Tk1,734.75 crore. In fiscal year 2019-2020, it was TK2,927.82 crore.
Customs officials say imports of high duty goods have come down after the Covid-19 pandemic started in 2020. That is why revenues are not meeting the target.
The revenue target in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year was set at Tk5,184.52 crore. However, only Tk3,449.77 crore was collected .
In fiscal year 2019-2020, the revenue target was Tk5,563.59 crore but only Tk2,635. 77 crore was collected.
In the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, imports were around 5.47 lakh tons, while in 2019-2020, imports were around 1,57,428 tons.
The port could not achieve the revenue targets for fiscal years 2018-2019 and 2017-2018, and in 2020, revenues suffered further with the onset of the pandemic.
Benapole port mainly runs on imports, and exports are 1/5 of imports.
Md Azizur Rahman, Benapole customs commissioner, said "The Covid-19 pandemic has been lashing us for more than one and a half years. That is why imports decreased last year. Though imports increased in April this year, the import of high duty goods did not increase. So the revenue target of the government is not being fulfilled."
Mizanur Rahman Khan, former president of the Jashore Chamber of Commerce, said, "The business community of the country suffered a lot towards the beginning of the current fiscal year due to the pandemic. It is very natural that when imports of high duty goods are low, revenue collection will come down. Many traders have lost their capital to several mysterious fire incidents at Benapole port and many of them have left the port since port authorities have not given any compensation."
Mofizur Rahman Sajan, president of the Clearing and Forwarding Agents Association of Benapole, said the Covid-19 pandemic, lack of legitimate facilities in releasing goods from the port, lack of infrastructure development, and low imports of high duty goods were responsible for the decline in imports and revenues.
Md Azizur said in this regard, that they are in favour of increasing legitimate benefits for traders. They have already sent a letter to the port authorities to develop infrastructure facilities, he said.
If the capacity of the port is increased, imports through the Benapole land port would also rise, and so would government revenues, he continued.
"I hope the revenue collection target will be met once the corona situation improves," he added.
Abdul Jalil, acting director (Traffic) at Benapole Land Port, said land had already been acquired for the expansion of Benapole Port.
Several modern warehouses and high boundary walls have also been built, he said.
A budget for CCTV cameras was also allocated to beef up security, he added.
Matiar Rahman, chairman of the India—Bangladesh Land Port Import—Export Sub-committee, said 70 percent of the country's import-exports take place at Benapole.
But many businessmen were losing interest in the port as infrastructure has not met expectations, and as such, the government's revenue target was not being met either, he said.
On average, goods worth about Tk40,000 crore are imported from India annually, while goods worth around Tk8,000 crore are exported through Benapole port per year.
On average, the government generates tax revenues of around Tk 5,000 crore from imported goods annually.
Products imported through benapole port include raw materials used in industrial factories, ready-made garments, chemicals, machinery parts, yarn, and a variety of food items.
Among export products, jute and jute products, fish, melamine, readymade garments, and Bashundhara tissue are worth mentioning.