Unfair trade goes unchecked
Unfair trade is on the rise, as Bangladesh Tariff Commission (BTC) remains weak, said the commission's Chairman Mujibur Rahman yesterday.
A section of tax-dodging businessmen import different goods through under-invoicing, said Rahman at a seminar on Bangladesh Tariff Commission: Its role in industrial and trade development.
As an example, Rahman said, some businessmen show the import price of a refrigerator at $50 only, whereas a spare part of the same refrigerator should cost more than that.
The quality of the under-invoiced imports through is not good either, he said. "As a result, both consumers and domestic businesses suffer."
On one hand, the entrepreneurs, being aware of such malpractices, feel discouraged to invest in domestic enterprises; on the other hand, consumers are cheated as they are compelled to procure substandard goods, he said.
Pre-shipment inspection (PSI) companies were supposed to work on recommendations of the tariff commission, but the commission has no control over the PSI companies in Bangladesh.
He said businesses would not have faced such debacles if the tariff commission had been strengthened properly.
“The idea of the tariff commission materialised worldwide to protect the domestic industries, but in Bangladesh the case is different. Here the tariff commission can hardly work because it has not been empowered effectively," he said.
The commission chairman also said the worldwide tariff rationalisation and tax overhaul are the jobs of the tariff commission, but in Bangladesh, those functions are performed by the National Board of Revenue (NBR).
At the seminar organised by Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI), AK Azad, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), said the commerce ministry and the NBR failed to make the tariff commission into an effective body.
"The growth of the domestic industry has been hampered because of the malpractices of some corrupt government officials. We need to change our mindset," Azad said.
Mentioning the contribution of the private sector in employment creation, the FBCCI chief said the private sector businessmen paid Tk 62,000 crore in tax and value added tax (VAT) in the last fiscal year. This year, the government's target exceeds Tk 72,000 crore in this regard. "We need to change the PSI system urgently."
Commerce Minister Faruk Khan said the tariff commission should be renamed Trade and Tariff Commission. "The tariff commission should work more and should deliver more for the greater interest of domestic industries," Khan said.
Mostafa Abid Khan, joint chief of BTC, presented the keynote paper at the seminar. BCI incumbent president Shahedul Islam Helal and its elected president ATM Wajiullah and FBCCI Vice-president Mohammad Jasimuddin also spoke.