The National Board of Revenue (NBR) is contemplating the closure of some 150 non-functional Land Customs Stations (LCS), with plans to strengthen the remaining 30 by overhauling infrastructures and expanding facilities.
On Wednesday, the revenue board discussed the matter with stakeholders at a meeting, presided over by its Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem.
The decision, however, is not yet finalised pending future discussions with relevant ministries, said people aware of the meet, which was attended by top leaders of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industries (FBCCI), Bangladesh Garment Manufacturer and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturer and Exporters Association (BKMEA) among others.
FBCCI Senior Vice President Mostofa Azad Chowdhury Babu told the Business Standard, "We have no objections about closing down inactive LCSs."
The business community representatives called for ensuring adequate facilities with improved infrastructures for the remaining LCSs, sources said adding that the NBR was on the same page in this regard.
A number of land custom stations were set up over the years including some dating back to the British era and in most of these LCSs trading activities are minimal to none. In papers the total number of LCS is 184 while only 30 of these are functional. Except for a handful of the 30 LCS, most lack adequate infrastructure and needed facilities. The other 150 or so LCS, there are no activities whatsoever for decades and thus deemed non-functional.
Requesting anonymity, a senior NBR official told The Business Standard, "At present only 30 LCS are Functional and the many of the rest are inactive for 30-40 years."
Fazlee Shamim Ehsan, the newly appointed Vice President of BKMEA, who was present at the meeting, told the Business Standard, "We have no objection to the closure of LCS which are not functional. However, we have demanded increased facilities at the existing stations and ensure that goods and raw materials can be imported as required."
He also pointed out that currently yarn can be imported only through the Benapole port, causing massive workload at the LC station there.
"We need facilities for importing yarn at Vomra, Darshana Land Customs Stations," he said.
Currently the Benapole port of Jashore is widely used for the bulk of import and export activities. Other than that, Darshana, Tamabil, Sonamasjid, Hili, Burimari, Zakiganj, Akhaura and some other stations are more operational than the rest.