Bangladesh is likely to lose about $7 billion in export earnings annually after the its LDC graduation by 2026, said Ferdaus Ara Begum, CEO of Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) on Sunday.
"So, everyone needs to be prepared for that and start working in a coordinated manner to stave off the potential negative impact," she said while addressing a virtual workshop on 'Health Safety Guidelines for Business Continuity and Trade Facilitation during Covid-19 for Dhaka Custom House.'
Begum continued, "The revenue collection in different heads such as supplementary duty, export, and VAT at the domestic stage has been reduced in December 2020 compared to those in the corresponding month of 2019. The worst sufferers are the small entrepreneurs and there was a decline in the turnover tax by 31% in the corresponding period as mentioned above."
The workshop was organised by BUILD and International Finance Corporation (IFC).
The objectives of the workshop were to sensitise concerned service providers and service takers to maintain health safety measures to run businesses in the post-Covid period to mitigate export losses, it added.
Highlighting steps taken by Dhaka Customs for smooth and effective implementation of their daily tasks while maintaining health safety protocol, Muhammed Mahbubur Rahman, additional commissioner, said, "The Custom House clears 3000 – 4000 bill of ladings (B/L) every day while minimising risks and ensuring quality so that Covid-19 exemptions are not abused. To maintain export and import growth as well as managing the supply chain, we have worked hard so that revenue collection does not fall."
Nusrat Nahid, private sector specialist, International Finance Corporation, made a presentation at the workshop highlighting issues of health safety and informed about the impacts of the Covid-19 in trade. She stressed the need to maintain different health and safety guidelines even after the roll-out of the vaccines.
Dr Mohammad Abul Hasnat, international public health specialist, emphasised the policy level decision for addressing the pandemic and appreciated the role of the government for all time-bound policies to address the pandemic.
"The impact of a virus may remain for 2-3 years to be contained fully, and thus we need to maintain all safety practices throughout 2021. In the "new normal", everyone needs to adapt and carry out their activities while maintaining the safety protocols even after the introduction of the vaccine," Hasnat added.
Ivan Peterson, consultant of IFC also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the role of AEO which in future would contribute further to custom clearance in the country.
Kabir Ahmed, president, Baffa informed that, throughout the pandemic, Baffa tried to continue service even though their logistic support was inadequate. They are waiting for the new cargo shade terminal for a separate corridor for the courier service.
Bashir Ullah Bhuiyan, an importer, explained how they benefited from the online submission of documents and acceptance by the DHC for releasing his consignment within the shortest possible time.
The workshop was supported by Bangladesh Investment Climate Fund II, which is implemented by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank Group, and funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).