Published on 07:10 AM, March 23, 2023

Elite Paint imports ‘Product of Bangladesh’ from India

Elite Paint, one of the oldest decorative paint manufacturers in the country, brought in about three and a half tonnes of finished paint from India in cans with the 'Product of Bangladesh' stamp -- a move that violates the customs act and country-of-origin rules.

The shipment worth Tk 25 lakh came from Soujanya Color in India, and Elite Paint's subsidiary Elite International, a clearing and forwarding agent, is responsible for releasing the consignment from the port.

But the Chattogram Custom House officials seized the 3,000 Elite Paint-branded plastic containers, which contained 16 shades of decorative paint, earlier this month for violating multiple rules.

Elite Paints, which was founded in 1952, said the consignment contained raw materials, which would have fetched the Chattogram-based company industrial benefits as well as a waiver advance tax payment.

The benefits do not apply to imported finished goods, according to customs officials.

About 35 percent duty has to be paid for imported finished paint.

Besides, Elite Paint cannot import any finished goods since it is an industrial company. If it does, it will be treated as a commercial product and it will not get any industrial benefit in importing and selling the product in the country.

Furthermore, as per the country-of-origin rules, it is illegal to import finished products and claim those as manufactured locally.

As per Section 15 of the Customs Act 1969, such goods can be confiscated, while Section 156 (1) and (9) permit imposing a double fine on the value of the product.

All types of imported goods must have the name of the country of manufacture and exporters must provide a certificate name as "country of origin" to prove where the product was made.

The "country of origin" name has to be mentioned in all import documents including the bank's letter of credit, packaging list, shipping documents and customs documents.

Due to the violations of customs law, there is no scope to release the consignment, said customs officials informed on the matter.

All import documents of Elite Paint's consignment showed that the product origin is India but 'Product of Bangladesh' is written on the containers.

Were the consignment released by the customs, the paint cans, which weigh a kilogram each and have usage instructions in both Bengali and English, can be sold in the market without any change. 

According to the physical report of the consignment, the cans have the manufacturing and expiry dates and Elite Paint factory's address of 92 Baizid Bostami Road, Nasirabad Industrial Area, Chattogram.

An explanation has been sought from the importer regarding the consignment and legal proceedings are under process, Mohammad Fyzur Rahman, commissioner of customs, told The Daily Star.

"I don't know anything about this. Those who are concerned with imports can speak on this matter. I am asking the concerned officer to contact you as soon as possible," Salim Ahmed, vice-chairman of Elite Paint and Chemical Industries.

Later, Mohammad Murad Hossain, who is the company's board secretary and head of the human resource department, contacted the correspondent.

He said the exporting company made a printing mistake and sent in a correction letter later.

"We will submit the letter to customs for clearing the goods."

When asked how the cans had Elite Paint's name and factory address and those looked similar to the company's packaging, he could not give any answer.