The rice importers have already sent letters to National Board of Revenue (NBR) and customs authorities, urging them to reinstate the previous tax rate so that they can release their products
Around 8,000 tons of rice are waiting to be released from Hili Land Port for the past week.
Rice importers in Hili port of Dinajpur are not discharging their imported goods, to avoid loss, as a result of an excessive hike in tax rate.
In the proposed national budget of fiscal year (FY) of 2018-2019, import tax of rice has been increased from 2% to 28%, which is causing the importers to release their products that have been already imported, in the increased tax rate.
The importers have already sent letters to National Board of Revenue (NBR) and customs authorities, urging them to reinstate the previous tax rate so, that they can release their products. Otherwise, they will have to go to court.
Hili port authorities have said on June 4, 1,062 tons of rice were imported on 29 trucks; on June 5, 3,848 tons were imported on 109 trucks; on June 6 8,380 tons on 238 trucks and on June 7, only 175 tons on five trucks were imported.
Before two days of the budget proposal on June 7, 12,000 tons of rice were imported but only 4,000 were released at the previous 2% tax rate and 8,000 tons are still stuck.
Rice importers Mamurur Rashid Lebu and Harunur Rashid Harun said due to the statement of Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on June 4, he said the tax of imported rice will be increased to 28% so that local farmers are not affected financially.
Due to this reason, rice importers with issued letter of credit (LCs) started to stock huge quantity of rice on June 5 and 6 at the port.
But, after completing all the formalities of import tax, when the importers went to submit the bill of lading, they were informed that the customs server was out of order as a result the goods could not be released on June 6 and 7.
Only 4,000 tons of rice were released on budget day till 3pm as the bill of lading of those goods were already submitted.
All the rice that has been stuck in the port, were imported before the budget proposal.
The importers were unable to release their goods because of the fault of the customs server, and they do not want to release the rice at the hiked rate of 28%.
Instead, they applied to NBR and other customs authorities to reinstate the previous 2% tax rate, else they will go to court.
Mushfiqur Rahman Chowdhury, a costs and freight (C and F) agent said they did not receive any guidance of the government’s proposed budget about the hike of tax rate, also there were no notices issued about unavailability of the customs server, but every year the authority issues such notice.
Meanwhile, 215 truck drivers, carrying the rice from India are already in trouble as they ran out of money for food, having been waiting in line for the last week.
They fear, the rice will be damaged if they still remain stuck during the Eid holidays.
Deputy Commissioner of Hili Land Port Rezvi Ahmed said all the procedures are controlled, processed and monitored by NBR through a server and they have no authority over this. All the customs houses in the country run in the exact manner.
He said the server was getting an update on June 6.
He also said: “The sever has been opened on June 7 afternoon, the ones who want to release their rice have to pay the new imposed 28% rate of tax, instead of previous 2%.”