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Our poorly run custom houses

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05th-May-2018       
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THE Chattogram Customs House (CCH) has given the job of scanning import cargoes to a foreign company (SGS) at a cost of Tk 29 crore. While the CCH is claiming it could have done the job itself for a mere Tk 4 crore per year, the fact remains that it failed to set up a permanent scanning department since 2012. Also it's rather baffling as to  why the Customs House officials who were trained for scanning got transferred. The point, however,  appears, that we are more at ease at giving out contracts to outside parties for a higher cost rather than handling the job by ourselves by building up human resources.
Another long-standing problem with our Customs Houses is the handling of abandoned import goods. Uptill last December some   32.5 lakh tonnes of imported goods worth Tk 9,509 crore have been lying unclaimed for months at 17 Sea and Land Customs Houses and stations nationwide. As of now many of the clearing houses are now inundated with 100 types of goods that have been accumulating from July, 2016 till October, 2017.
As far we know, the rules stipulate that unless goods are not claimed within a month of arrival, they are supposed to be sold off. Yet we see no such move by the Customs Authorities to follow the rules. It certainly raises eye-brows because some of the items stored are beginning to deteriorate in quality and soon may be rendered worthless. From what we understand of the situation, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has communicated repeatedly with authorities running these houses and stations enquiring about why these items are being hoarded against rules. Such inaction opens up the room for speculation that there are unscrupulous elements involved here who may wish to siphon off unclaimed goods.
For too long our Customs Houses have been riddled with corruption and mismanagement and the authorities concerned must immediately address the problems before they take our import-export mechanism to the brink of collapse.

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