Highest bids range from Tk 2.5 lakh to Tk 50 lakh
Custom House Chattogram has auctioned off 78 luxury cars whose brands included that of BMW, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Mercedes and Lexus and which attracted individual bids of a maximum of Tk 2.5 lakh to Tk 50.5 lakh.
On Wednesday, the customs authority published the names of the 78 top bidders while more than 500 bidders participated in the auction physically submitting documents or through the e-auction process.
However, the authority is yet to select the bidders due to most of the bids not reaching prices of their expectations.
Customs sources said at least 30 to 40 bidders have a chance to get the cars, which would be announced next week.
Earlier, auctions were attempted more than five times for about 111 vehicles but the customs was able to sell only 33 due to complexities in availing "Clearance Permits" (CPs) from the Ministry of Commerce as all of the cars were more than five years old.
The 111 cars included 26 of the BMW brand, 24 Mercedes-Benz, 23 Mitsubishi, 10 Range Rover and nine Lexus.
According to the law, importers and bidders need the CPs for releasing vehicles more than 5 years old from the port as Bangladesh restricts the import of such old cars.
To attract bidders, the customs authority has collected the CPs against these vehicles, as a result of which a huge number of bidders participated in the auction compared to that in the past.
Most of the bids could not reach the expected price in the auction due to those cars being brought to the Chattogram port around a decade ago duty-free under a UN convention.
The "UN Customs Convention on the Temporary Importation of Private Road Vehicles of 1954" facilitates a privilege known as Carnet de Passage.
It allows tourists to bring their vehicles to a country without payment of customs duties, provided the vehicles are taken back with the foreign nationals.
According to the customs data, about 369 luxury vehicles were brought to the Chattogram port between 2008 and 2012 under the facility.
In 2013, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) realised that Bangladesh was not a signatory to the convention and decided to stop entertaining the facility altogether.
According to Chattogram Custom House, some 120 luxury cars were lying at the Chattogram port after the NBR decision which were brought between 2008 and 2012 under the facility.
All of the cars came from the United Kingdom. Most of them were produced in Germany and Japan at least 16 years to 27 years ago, according to the auction section of the customs house.
The bid of Tk 2.5 lakh was for a Mitsubishi mini jeep, which is around 2 per cent of it reserved value or market value of Tk 1.39 crore, meaning import cost plus tax, at the time of import.
SS Trading Corporation made the bid for the car of 1,834cc and made in Japan in 2000.
The highest bid for a 2006 model Range Rover was Tk 50.5 lakh by Dhaka based trading company Sweets. However, the reserve value of the car is Tk 3.45 crore.
Santosh Soren, deputy commissioner of Customs House, Chattogram, told The Daily Star, "We have published the list of the highest bidders of 78 cars. The auction committee will decide whether the cars will be given to them at their declared price."