Chattogram Custom House has achieved 2.41% positive growth despite an 8% negative growth in container transport amid the Covid-19 pandemic in the first six months of the fiscal 2020-21.
This success in revenue collection by the country's largest customs house amid the pandemic-struck global economic crisis is seen as a positive sign among relevant quarters.
According to custom house sources, the revenue collected in the six months from July to December of the current financial year was Tk21,664.42 crore. In the same period in 2029-20, revenue collection amounted to Tk21,155.24 crore.
Revenue collection in the first six months of the current financial year has increased by Tk509.18 crore as compared to the previous financial year.
At the beginning of FY 2020-21, there was a negative growth of 11.57%, but the situation started to improve in the subsequent months.
According to Chattogram Custom House officials, the reduction of false declarations and other unethical and fraudulent activities has had a positive impact on revenue collection.
In addition, in the current financial year, the authorities have imposed a provision of fining at least double the amount of revenue in case of duty evasion on imported goods. The provision also includes imposing fines up to four times of the revenue depending on the types of irregularities.
Chattogram Custom House Commissioner Mohammad Fakhrul Alam told The Business Standard, "Our team is working to create an honest and business-friendly environment. Although almost all offices in the country were closed at the beginning of the pandemic, the activities of the custom house did not stop.
"We have made utmost efforts in maintaining consistency in revenue collection. As a result, it has been possible to achieve positive growth in the first six months of the financial year. Efforts will continue to maintain this trend till the end of the financial year."
According to customs data, after a negative growth of 11.58% in July of the current financial year, the highest positive growth of 11.55% was achieved in August. In September, there was again a positive growth of 10.74% .
However, growth in October fell by 1.11%. The custom house achieved a positive growth of 8.69% in November. In December, the growth slowed to minus 0.71%.
According to information available from Chattogram Port, in 2020 the port handled 28.40 lakh TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) of containers, which had been 30.88 lakh TEUs in 2019.
In 2020, the import-export cargo and empty container transport decreased by 2.48 lakh TEUs. Container transport has decreased by around 8%, which is the highest amount of decrease in terms of percentage in the history of the port.
According to Chattogram Custom House, the revenue target for the current fiscal year 2020-21 has been set at Tk65,433.70 crore. Revenue collection in the first six months of the financial year was Tk21,664.42 crore.
The revised target for the last financial year was Tk58,298.05 crore and against this target, the collection was Tk41,853.86 crore. In that financial year the growth was -3.96%.
Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told The Business Standard, "Where the last financial year ended with negative growth, the positive growth in the first six months of the current financial year is undoubtedly positive for the economy. All concerned, including traders, have a role to play in continuing this trend."