Diplomatic bond policy at final stage

21 September 2021

Al Amin :
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has finalised diplomatic bonded warehouse automation policy with a view to bringing transparency in the sector.
The revenue board has issued a circular in this regard by disseminating functions of the concerned authorities.
The stakeholders, however, said the regulatory authority is bringing the bonded management under automation without any legal framework and it will fall the traders into risky.
Stopping the automation procedure, they have filed writ petition with the court against it, the stakeholders said.
They said the NBR had amended Value-Added Tax (VAT) law before starting the VAT-Onlne project but it does not do it in this case.
Even, NBR has not discussed the issue with Law Ministry or ICT Ministry, although this is a very sensitive issue as there is foreigners' security issue, they added. Besides, there will have chances to face legal action, if any information leaks, the stakeholders added.
"Without amending law, the diplomatic bonded automation will be very risky for us. We have requested the NBR several times for amending law before automation but it did not pay head," said a stakeholder seeking his anonymity.
"We have filed a writ petition with the court against the automation procedure and the court will decide," he added. Meanwhile, NBR officials said whole bonded warehouse management system will be automated by June, 2023. Apart from this, the revenue board has initiated to bring the diplomatic bond under automation primarily to ensure accountability and transparency in the duty-free liquor trade.
Software has already been developed in this regard involving the Foreign Ministry and the concerned stakeholders, they said.
We are now giving necessary trainings and instruction to our officials to operate the software and automated diplomatic bond will be functional from next month, they added. They further said NBR has finalised bond automation policies by disseminating functions of the concerned authorities.
Finalising the policy, NBR has taken opinions from the stakeholders including the Foreign Ministry, they added.  The stakeholders said that there was a concern of leak out information of the diplomats, which likely to be left the foreigners insecure.
There are six diplomatic warehouses in the country-- Dacca Warehouse Ltd, Sabir Traders Ltd (STL), National Warehouse, TOS Bond (pvt) Ltd, Eastern Diplomatic Services and H Kabir and Co Ltd, Parjatan Corporation and Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
The warehouses import duty-free liquor, cigarettes and other food items for diplomats who can buy those at a nominal price under the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations. Each diplomat has a Tax Exemption Certificate that entitles them a certain quantity of duty-free goods as per ranks.
Foreign nationals working with international organisations are also entitled to duty-free liquor from the diplomatic bonded warehouses.
Taking the duty-free facility, the traders import foreign liquor worth around $55000 to $60,000 every year officially and sell it in the local markets.

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