The Chattogram Customs House has spent more than Tk78 lakh on arranging auctions to sell merely Tk3.31 lakh worth of chemicals lying in a Chattogram port warehouse for 15 years but to no avail.
According to customs officials, the chemicals weighing 2010kg have so far been put on auctions 26 times, by spending around Tk3 lakh on advertising in four newspapers and logistics for each round.
For the last time, the customs house on 23 January organised an auction for 64 lots of goods when the chemicals were also put on auction. With this, the chemicals have so far been auctioned 27 times but no buyer has shown interest in buying the rotten product.
Most of the 64 lots of products had earlier been put on auction 5-10 times. This is how the Chattogram Customs House is wasting money by arranging auctions.
A total of 112 vehicles brought under the Carnet facility have been auctioned five times. Most of these vehicles were damaged due to failure in a timely sale.
After various processes, on 18 January this year, the Chattogram Customs House approved the sales of only three vehicles.
Carnet de Passage is an international customs facility that allows tourists to temporarily import their private vehicles without paying any duty for a limited period on the condition of re-exporting them at the end of their stay.
This facility has allegedly been abused by some quarters for years.
Usually, non-resident Bangladeshis, foreign tourists, diplomats and persons entitled to special facilities import luxury vehicles under the facility. But customs found that many of those cars were never re-exported as per conditions.
According to the people concerned, such incidents have taken place as the customs authorities organised the auctions on their own decisions without a clearance permit from the commerce ministry. They said that there would be no other option but to sell these cars worth crores of taka as scrap.
Not only car auctions, but also the situation of regular auctions at the Chattogram Custom House is in a similar state.
Although an auction is held at an average cost of around Tk3 lakh per month in advertisements, logistical support, manpower and other sectors, the sales of products are not gaining much momentum.
Iqbal Hossain, the proprietor of R&H Syndicate, who regularly participates in auctions at the Chattogram Customs House, said that each product is being auctioned 15 to 20 times.
"But the products are not being sold due to the whimsical decisions of the auction committee. Because of this, bidders are losing interest in participating in auctions," he added.
Tofail Ahmed, a joint commissioner at the Chattogram Customs House, said, "If there are no bidders in an auction of any product, we try to sell it by auctioning it again and again."
"Also, as the commerce ministry has given directions that in the case of vehicles brought under the Carnet facility, we will have to put these vehicles up for auction again in a short time," he added.