Over 80pc of smuggled goods dodge customs

Seminar suggests coordinated move among all govt agencies

Staff Correspondent
Finance minister AMA Muhith addresses a seminar on preventing smuggling and duty evasion organised by the National Board of Revenue in Dhaka on Saturday. State minister for finance and planning MA Mannan, NBR chairman Md Nojibur Rahman and FBCCI president Abdul Matlub Ahmad are also seen, among others. — New Age photo

Finance minister AMA Muhith addresses a seminar on preventing smuggling and duty evasion organised by the National Board of Revenue in Dhaka on Saturday. State minister for finance and planning MA Mannan, NBR chairman Md Nojibur Rahman and FBCCI president Abdul Matlub Ahmad are also seen, among others. — New Age photo

Experts, businessmen and senior government officials on Saturday said the National Board of Revenue and other government agencies must intensify their effort in a coordinated manner to prevent smuggling at the maximum level to ensure overall security of the country and revenue generation.
At a seminar on preventing smuggling and duty evasion organised by the NBR, they said that customs officials could detect only 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the smuggled goods while the remaining 80 per cent glided through due to lack of institutional capacity, skilled manpower and coordination among the agencies.
Smuggling is also used for financing terrorism, they said.
Stressing on the need for smuggling prevention, finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said terrorism became stronger through smuggling which was also used for financing organised crimes.
‘We follow various customs measures to prevent smuggling of goods including gold, foreign currency and drugs as these goods disturb the equilibrium in the country and harm health and environment,’ he said.
Retired Major General Md Abdur Rashid, who is a strategic and security analyst, said that a recent global trend of strong nexus among smuggling, organised crimes and terrorism put the country’s overall national security at risk.
Currently only 10 per cent of the smuggled goods including gold and contrabands are being detected by the customs officials, he said.
‘So, there is no room for complacency and the NBR should work hard to detect the remaining portion of the smuggled goods.’
He alleged that country’s terrorist and religious extremist groups were making investment in cow smuggling between India and Bangladesh that added a new dimension to the country’s security threats.
According to the statistics of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate, customs officials seized 3,000 kilograms of smuggled gold worth Tk 1,450 crore at different ports over the last three years.
It also recovered illegal foreign currency worth Tk 74 crore, 1.72 sticks of cigarettes, contraband medicine worth Tk 15 crore and huge amount of cocaine, heroin, yaba, counterfeit cosmetics during the period.
Home ministry senior secretary Mozzamel Haque Khan said that only 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the smuggled goods were detected and the remaining portion glided through using loopholes.
The smuggling issue should be treated as a concern for the overall national security and revenue generation, he said.
Capacity building, skilled manpower, coordination among agencies including NBR and other law enforcing agencies are needed in this connection, he added.
Delwar Hossain, a professor of international relations department at Dhaka University, said that the size of global smuggling economy was $1 trillion to $3 trillion a year which was around 10 per cent of the global economy.
Prevention of smuggling is very important for Bangladesh in terms of revenue collection and ensuring the security of the country as smuggling is used for terror financing worldwide, he said.
Raising question about the role of revenue officials in preventing smuggling, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Abdul Matlub Ahmad said duty evasion through smuggling could not happen by one side without help of the other side.
He said that that the amount of detected smuggled goods was like a leaf of a tree.
Matlub urged the revenue board to remove the authority given to the Border Guard Bangladesh for exercising power of seizure of goods and arrest to prevent smuggling like customs officials as it (the authority) appeared as harassment to the business community.
‘Why BGB will be involved within five kilometres of the border in the process, if the customs officials can efficiently release the goods completing all procedures?’ he asked.
State minister for finance and planning MA Mannan, NBR chairman Md Nojibur Rahman and its member (customs policy) Farid Uddin spoke, among others.
CIID director general Moinul Khan presented the keynote paper at the seminar.

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