This system would also curb evasion of duties through false declaration
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) is going to procure 13 full-fledged container scanner systems for introducing a non-intrusive inspection system that will expedite the release of export and import items.
The non-intrusive inspection system has been included in Section 197B of the Customs Act 1969 to boost examination of export and import consignments.
This system would also curb evasion of duties through false declaration.
Non-intrusive inspection technology refers to technical equipment and machines such as X-ray or gamma-ray imaging type equipment that allow the inspection of cargo without the need to open the means of transport and unload the cargo.
According to NBR sources, the cost of these 13 systems would be some Tk633 crore and it would be procured by its own resources.
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These systems would include scanner, weigh bridge, radio portal monitor, and central and regional imaging system.
"Initially, we are going to procure six systems in the first phase," an NBR official told UNB.
He said that tender has been floated for the purpose where the closing date of the tender was May 25, but the NBR extended the date for one month as the official activities of the country have been stuck due to the lockdown to contain coronavirus infection and mortality.
Of the six units, four will be installed in Chattogram Customs House, one each in Benapole and Bhomra land ports.
The NBR official said that more than ten interested companies have procured the tender papers. They need to visit the installation sites to get a better idea for giving their final proposals in the preview meeting.
"That's why we have compelled to extend the submission date of the tender documents," he said.
In this regard he said that if the first phase of the procurement can be done smoothly, the NBR would go for the second procurement of seven more non- intrusive inspection systems.
In this connection, he mentioned the Covid-19 pandemic as a big hurdle which stalled all activities for a long time.
Earlier on March 31, the Customs Modernisation and Project Implementation section urged the NBR to include this procurement of six container scanner systems in the annual procurement plan (APP) for 2021-22 fiscal year as it was not included in the APP for running 2020-21 fiscal year.
Currently, the NBR has 11 container scanners across the country which is very low compared to the required number. On the other hand, the time for replacing some of the scanners is nearing.
Seven scanners are used at seven out of 12 gates of the Chittagong port, one scanner is deployed at the inland container depot of Kamalapur in Dhaka, one at Mongla seaport and two in Benapole land port.
Currently, custom houses physically examine 10-15% of the imported consignments.
Scanning of all consignments will prevent duty evasion through discrepancies in declaration such as over and under-invoicing as well as strengthen security of the country.
The government, in the budget for 2019-20 fiscal year has incorporated a provision for non-intrusive inspection in the Finance Act-2019 to bring all consignments under mandatory electronic scanning.
Under the provision, no consignments, unless exempted by official order, shall be cleared from customs control at any customs port or customs station without electronic scanning.
There is also a provision for clearing of consignments by performing physical examinations in the absence of an electronic scanning system.