More than 500 firms have been sued by Chittagong Customs House officials in the last fiscal year for evading customs duty by giving false information in their import declaration forms.
Using the wrong harmonised system (HS) code, used to identify different goods, is the most prevalent among the anomalies, while importing extra amounts of goods, importing goods with false declarations, and tampering with import and bank documents of the consignments in question are other ways to pay lesser tax.
A total of 730 cases have been filed against the 500 firms in connection with such anomalies, implying that there are firms which have regularly adopted these ways to pay lesser duties for the products they import, according to the Audit Investigation & Research (AIR) section of the Chittagong Customs House.
Surprisingly, the firms sued more than once include some big names like Abul Khair Steel Mills Limited, Rangpur Metal Industries Limited, Anwar Ispat Ltd, SS Steel Ltd, MBD Factory, Tanvir Enterprise, Rahim Steel Mills Ltd, Bangladesh Service Limited, Farjana Enterprise, SBA Trading, Yamin Enterprise, Raj Enterprise, Tahsan Trading, Al Safa Trading Corporation, Fashion Footwear Limited and others.
The AIR section is responsible for keeping vigil against any sort of tax evasion in the consignments brought in through the port.
Apart from realising the evaded tax, the concerned departments of the customs house also file cases over anomalies detectable during taxation-related activities.
The AIR section files the majority of the cases for dodging tax during the final stage when the imported containers are unpacked.
Such a last-minute inspection of a container imported by S Golden Trade on June 22 this year revealed that a Tk45 lakh worth consignment of burner gas stoves were being cleared under the HS code for car accessories.
Joint Commissioner of Chittagong Customs House Rais Uddin Khan said that AIR is assigned with the task of carrying out intelligence activities on a regular basis.
“Increasing revenue income from tax is not the only responsibility of the customs authorities. We also attach top priority to checking anomalies and money laundering,” he said.
“Revenue earnings from Chittagong region has increased by Tk20 crore compared to the last fiscal year. The anomalous practice of the importers will come down with the increase in manpower in the AIR section,” hoped the joint commissioner.