NBR steps in to ease Ctg port gridlock

The Daily Star  April 08, 2020

The National Board of Revenue yesterday widened the scope to assess the duty of more imported items in order to ease the burden on the Chattogram port that is mired in container congestion.

Because of the relaxation almost all goods can now be cleared save for those that were brought in for trading purpose, said a senior official of the NBR.

The revenue board particularly asked its field offices to facilitate clearance of capital machinery and parts, agricultural equipment and components, ingredients of poultry and fish feeds and the goods imported under diplomatic privilege and brought into the country by public, semi-government and autonomous organisations.

The latest directive came a week after the NBR asked the field offices to process documents for the clearance of imported industrial raw materials.

Initially, it had instructed customs offices to clear imported essential commodities, emergency medical and related products during the days of the lockdown, enforced by the government since March 26 to slow the spread of coronavirus.

In its letter, the ministry cited rising congestion of containers at the Chattogram port and requested the NBR to take measures to facilitate the clearance of all imported goods from the port.

The port, which releases 4,500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of goods daily, has been delivering 1,500 TEUs since the beginning of the lockdown.

Some 45,000 TEUs of import containers are waiting at the port for duty assessment.

The number of import containers is increasing day by day, creating congestion as customs are assessing duty of certain categories of products, the shipping ministry said.

“If the trend continues it will be tough to unload and release emergency items,” said the letter.

The volume of imported items would increase as the fasting month of Ramadan is set to roll later this month, it added.

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