Import duties worth Tk 62b stuck in court cases

December 02, 2020 10:05:28

| Updated:

December 02, 2020 11:18:17

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) is failing to realise some Tk 62 billion import duty that is stuck with 15,777 pending cases, officials have said.

The huge sum is blocked, as importers prefer to go for litigation once they feel that the customs officials concerned are doing injustice with them, they added.

The revenue board has recently updated the Ministry of Finance (MoF) about the number of pending cases and the amount of money involved with these.

The NBR officials said in case of violation of any rule of the Customs Act 1969 at import stage, judgement is issued under Section 156 of the act by the officials up to additional commissioner level.

If an importer is unhappy with the judgement, he or she can make an appeal to the commissioner concerned seeking proper justice, and later go to the Customs, Excise and VAT Appellate Tribunal.

Besides, scopes are there to resolve the disagreements through alternative dispute resolution (ADR), they added.

A senior customs official told the FE on Tuesday that importers are prone to opt for litigations instead of paying the appropriate amount of duties and charges.

“Even many of them are not interested in ADR. Thus, the number of pending cases is on the rise,” he said preferring anonymity.

He also acknowledged that the cases are not resolved through holding the required speedy trial at the tribunal.

General Secretary of Dhaka Taxes Bar Association Sufi Mohammad Al Mamun told the FE that revenue is stuck not only for the pending cases relating to import duty but also for cases regarding income tax and value added tax (VAT).

He alleged that the revenue board arbitrarily places judgments or issues statutory regulatory orders (SROs).

“The NBR does not consider whether the judgements or SROs are practically implementable or not.”

He also said there is no real functioning legal wing at the NBR to look after these issues.

“The NBR needs to have a strong legal wing, which will recheck its existing rules and provide advice while preparing new ones.”

Mr Mamun said the board is “proudly ignoring this important matter, and preparing laws by bureaucrats that are having serious loopholes.”

They prepare acts and rules at their will, resulting in cases that remain pending for years and billions of taka remain stuck.

“Acts and rules can’t be appropriate ones unless lawyers prepare those.”

Replying to a query, he said, the speedy trial of the cases may not bring positive results for the NBR or may not help realise the stuck money unless the acts and rules concerned are appropriately prepared.

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