NBR allows pvt co to launch container tracking sans tender

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The National Board of Revenue has given permission to a private company for introducing container tracking system in the country without any tender.
Traders said that introduction of the system, which is called ‘electronic seal and lock’, would increase the cost of doing business which eventually would hamper the country’s exports as the service might be made mandatory for exporters and importers to and from Chittagong Port and Inland Container Terminals areas.
They also said that Alif Corporation, which got the permission for introducing the system, was planning to charge excessively for the service.
The corporation owned by non-resident Bangladeshis living in US recently made a proposal of charging Tk 700 for the service for the first 24 hours and Tk 50 for every hour after end of the first 24 hours.
On July 27 this year, the revenue board allowed the corporation to introduce the technology on a pilot basis to and from Chittagong Port and inland container terminals known as off-docks situated within Chittagong city.
According to the conditions, the corporation will run the system for one year on pilot basis and the NBR will take next steps on continuation of the system based on the company’s performance.
Off-dock is a place where products to be exported are stuffed in containers for shipment and imported goods are released after customs clearance. There are now 15 off-docks in the country.
Most of the export items including readymade garments are stuffed in container at off-docks for shipment while 39 import items are released at off-docks.
The NBR initially was not in favour of introducing the system terming it less effective for traders, but finally moved with the idea following an instruction given by finance minister AMA Muhith after getting application from Alif Corporation.
The FBCCI in September last year also gave opinion for floating open tender following public procurement rules to make the system cost effective and ensure transparency in awarding the job.
Awarding the job to any particular organisation based on their application may create monopoly in the business, it said.
Ignoring the suggestion, the NBR gave the job to the Alif, traders involved with the process alleged.
The NBR also asked the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry to fix the applicable charges for the service negotiating with the corporation.
In a tripartite meeting held in last week of September at the revenue board, the FBCCI president Abdul Matlub Ahmad suggested the corporation to place a revised proposal of charges for the service terming the proposed charges as very high.
The revenue board would finalise the charges soon for the service.
Officials and traders involved with the issue told New Age that the corporation lacked technology and manpower to introduce the system.
Use of the container lock and seal will be mandatory for traders to and from Chittagong port and off-docks while it may be optional if the service is introduced for entire country.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association former vice-president Shahidullah Azim told New Age that exporters were a major stakeholder of the system but neither the NBR nor the FBCCI has yet wanted to know the opinion of apparel exporters on the technology.
The introduction of the system will certainly increase the cost of business and exporters will lose competitiveness as buyers are not increasing the price of unit, he said.
The charge should be very minimal even if the system is introduced, he said.
Source: New Age

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