Importers were rushing to complete procedures for getting reconditioned vehicles released from the Chittagong and Mongla ports fearing hike in import duties in the budget to be announced today.
Bills of Entry (B/Es) for the release of a staggering 3,184 vehicles have been submitted to the ports in the last six days, which is higher than that of the same period ahead of the national budgets of the last three years.
Even if the duty on the reconditioned vehicles is raised in the budget, the new rate would not be applicable to the B/Es submitted before yesterday afternoon. The additional duty would also not be applicable if the vehicles with the B/Es are kept in the yards of the ports, said sources there.
The importers went crazy about filing the documents keeping that in mind, said the sources.
In such a situation, officials from the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) said the number of the reconditioned vehicles could exceed their capacity of storage at the port.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Recondition Vehicles Importers and Dealers Association (BARVIDA) has already sent letters to the CPA and Chittagong Customs House for giving quicker berths to vessels carrying imported vehicles and for taking steps needed to have the quick delivery of the consignments.
According to the data from Chittagong and Mongla customs, a total of 2,189 vehicles were unloaded from three vessels at the two ports in the last seven days.
Of them, 1,479 vehicles were unloaded from two ships -- Viking Change and Lotus Leader -- at the Chittagong port while rest from MV Viking Ocean at Mongla port.
After completing its partial unloading at Mongla port, MV Viking Ocean carrying more 995 vehicles is now on the way to Chittagong Port for unloading, said sources at the port.
B/Es against these 3,184 vehicles have already been submitted to both the customs houses in the last one week.
According to the data of the National Board of Revenue, a total of 269 vehicles were delivered in the first week of June 2015, 634 in the same period of 2016, and 1,126 in first week of 2017, all just ahead of the national budgets.
Currently, importers have to pay between 127 percent and 830 percent duty on cars depending on engine size.
Asked about the rush, BARVIDA General Secretary Mohammad Habibur Rahman said importers were doing that out of anxiety.
He said the importers' fear was “logical” as the size of this year's budget would be bigger.
In its letter to the CPA chairman, BARVIDA urged to take steps for quicker delivery of the imported vehicles before the upcoming budget.
According to the CPA, the total capacity of storing vehicles at Chittagong port is 2,688. Until Wednesday, 2,672 vehicles were already at the port yards.
The port would exceed its capacity when MV Viking Ocean arrives today to offload 995 vehicles.
An official at Chittagong Custom House seeking anonymity said high number and quantities of deliveries of certain goods ahead of budgets was normal.
There is no legal restriction on speedy submission of import documents, like B/Es and import general manifest (IGM), he said.
Following NBR directives, all activities regarding submission of B/E or IGM at the import and export servers would be halted from 5:00pm yesterday (Wednesday) to 9:00am Friday.