Benapole Custom House did not meet its revenue collection target in the first two months of the current fiscal year 2020-21. The revenue collection target was Tk1,098.4 crore whereas only Tk501.98 crore was collected.
Traders say tariffs on imported goods are being unreasonably increased, leading many traders to find alternative ways leaving the legal ones. However, it is normal for revenue to decline due to higher imports of low-duty goods.
According to Benapole Customs, the revenue collection target for July this year was Tk573.63 crore but only Tk227.62 crore has been collected. In August, only Tk274.36 crore was collected against the target of Tk 524.45 crore. At that time, 2,90,183 tonnes of goods were imported through the land port.
In the last fiscal year, 2019-20, too, the revenue deficit was Tk3,458.12 crore. The revenue target was set at Tk5,995.75 crore. At that time, the customs authorities collected only Tk2,537.63 crore against the target.
People concerned have claimed that besides the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, the revenue from the port has been declining over the past few years.
Mofizur Rahman Sajan, president of the Benapole C&F Agents Association, said it was normal for revenue to decline if low-duty goods were imported. Due to various complications, the import of high-duty-goods including vehicle frames and motor parts has decreased.
Low-tariff products include: jute products, wheat, maize, onions, ready-made garments, etc.
Aminul Haque, senior vice-president of the Benapole Import-Export Association, said, "Tariffs on imported goods were increasing at an unreasonable rate. As a result, the smuggling of goods through customs evasion is increasing. If the tariff rate is kept at a normal level, legal imports will increase. This will increase revenue."
He said the port has a capacity of 50,000 tonnes, but there are at least 1,50,000 tonnes of goods there all the time. Unable to unload goods due to lack of space, Indian trucks wait at the port day after day. Under the open sky, valuable goods are damaged in the sun and rain. The government's target of collecting revenue from this port will be met if the traders get the legal benefits they deserve.
Former president of Jashore Chamber of Commerce Mizanur Rahman Khan said, "Even though Benapole is a big port, we are not getting any benefit from it. That trade is open seven days a week is only on paper. There is no alternative to legal or deserved facilities and infrastructure development to expand trade.
Azizur Rahman, the commissioner of Benapole Customs House, said the operation of the port was hampered due to Covid-19. However, the revenue would increase in the current financial year if the port were fully operational, he hoped.
In the 2018-19 financial year, Benapole Customs House had a revenue deficit of Tk1,145 crore. The target was set at Tk5,185 crore, and the collection was Tk4,040 crore.
The revenue target for the 2017-18 financial year was Tk4,195 crore. The collection was Tk4016.24 crore. The revenue deficit was Tk179.64 crore.
In the fiscal year 2019-20, 17,78,628 tonnes of different types of goods were imported through Benapole port. In the 2018-19 financial year, 18,36,953 tonnes of goods were imported from India. In the 2017-18 financial year, the import of goods was 19,88,398 tonnes.