Benapole Customs House has failed to meet its revenue collection target again in the 2021-22 fiscal year despite recording a surge in imports from India.
A total of 363,815 tonnes of goods were imported through the largest land port of the country in the last nine months of the current fiscal.
The revenue collection target for the nine months was Tk3,894 crore, while the collection stood at Tk3,286 crore. The shortfall of revenue was Tk607 crore.
In contrast, some 232,101 tonnes of goods were imported in the 2020-21 fiscal year. A total of Tk4,145 crore revenue was collected against the target of Tk6,244 crore.
According to port officials, the revenue collection has fallen due to a decline in the import of goods that are subjected to duty.
However, 56% more revenue was collected in the 2020-21 fiscal year as compared to FY 2019-20.
In the 2019-20 fiscal year, the revenue deficit was Tk3,392 crore against the target while the revenue shortfall in FY2020-21 was Tk2,099 crore.
According to Benapole Customs House sources, some 2,038,064 tonnes of goods were imported in FY 2019-21, and 2,777,606 tonnes were imported in FY2020-21.
In the 2013-14 fiscal year, a total of 1,271,024 tonnes of goods were imported through the port and 1.354,942 tonnes were imported in the 2014-15 fiscal year.
In the 2015-16 fiscal year, a total of 1,283,875 tonnes of goods were imported, and 1,519,220 tonnes were imported In the 2016-17 financial year.
In the 2017-18 fiscal year, some 1,988,397 tonnes of goods were imported, and in the last 2018-19 fiscal year, some 2,011,006 tonnes of goods were imported.
Aminul Haque, senior vice-president of the Benapole Import-Export Association, said, "Tariffs on imported goods have been increasing at an unreasonable rate. If the tariff rate was reasonable, imports would increase and so would the revenue."
Mofizur Rahman Sajan, president of the Benapole C&F Agents Association, said, "The rules for paying duty on imported goods should be the same in all ports. When Chittagong Customs imposes a duty of $4 on a product, Benapole imposes $4.5 on the same product."
Besides, the capacity of the Benapole port is 36,000 tonnes but at least 1.5 lakh tonnes of goods are always retained here, he said.
"Being unable to unload goods due to lack of space, Indian trucks often remain stranded at the port for days, damaging valuable goods," Mofizur Rahman said, adding that the revenue target from this port will be met if the traders get legitimate facilities.
Mizanur Rahman Khan, former president of Jessore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, "Even though Benapole is a large port, we are not getting any benefit from it. The trade service is open seven days a week, but on paper only."
"There is no substitute for legitimate facilities and infrastructure development to expand trade," he added.
Mamun Kabir Tarafdar, director (Traffic) of Benapole Port, said, "CCTV cameras are being installed for ensuring security to imported goods and new lands are being acquired for the development of the port's infrastructure. With the launch of these facilities, the revenue will also increase."
Benapole Customs House Commissioner Md Azizur Rahman said, "A large number of duty-free goods or goods with less duty have been imported in the current financial year. Of the imported items, products used in big government projects were big in number."
Thus, the amount of imports has increased, but we did not get enough revenue. Besides, a lot of duty-free rice has also arrived, he said, expressing hope that imports and revenue will increase after Eid.