The Mongla Customs House (MCH) is facing businessmen's wrath as they allege that officials working there are not business-friendly. Rather they create various problems, sources said.
However, the MCH commissioner dismissed the allegations saying they go by NBR rules.
The angry businessmen of Khulna region recently lodged a complaint to the prime minister's office (PMO) against officials of the customs house for non-cooperation, they added.
The PMO subsequently requested the ministry of finance (MoF) for taking necessary steps to resolve the problems the businessmen facing, for the sake of economic development of the region.
Sources said president of Khulna Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Kazi Aminul Haque, in a recent letter to the prime minister's economic adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman, sought steps to resolve 'problems created by Mongla customs house' for the port users.
Following this, Mr Rahman forwarded the KCCI letter along with a demi official letter to finance minister AMA Muhith for taking steps and also gave a copy to shipping minister Shajahan Khan.
The port users alleged that the MCH officials carry out 100 per cent physical examination of goods imported through the Mongla port instead of following 'random check method' violating the permanent order of the national board of revenue (NBR).
They cited the practice followed in the Chittagong customs house where only 10 per cent of goods are checked.
The officials realise high import duty at their will instead of following the customs valuation guidelines, also evading tariff value, the businesses alleged. Instead of applying duty waivers in case of capital machinery imports, they charge higher duty under various HS Code (Harmonised System Codes) by dividing different parts of the machinery, it was also alleged.
The MCH realises 100 to 120 per cent penalty on dutiable price of goods imported without declaration while the other customs houses charge only 20 to 30 per cent for the same offence, they claimed.
A stone-laden vessel namely M V FEYHA had to stay three months in the port for unloading due to 'harassment by the customs commissioner'. Nowadays no stone-carrying vessels are coming to the port to avoid such harassment, they further alleged.
The problems, created by MCH, are causing delay in unloading of goods resulting to container congestion in the port. The ship owners thus charge additional congestion cost which compels the importers to unload goods at Chittagong port, they noted.
They demanded immediate withdrawal of Mongla Customs House commissioner Dr Md Al Amin Pramanik for the sake of the port and businesses of the area as the government's endeavour to make the Mongla port effectively functional is becoming futile 'due to the activities of the customs commissioner'.
When contacted, KCCI president Mr Haque told the FE there are a lot of allegations against the MCH officials.
"They are only engaged in creating barriers so that we can't do business properly," he alleged.
He also said the customs commissioner is not following various rules prepared by the NBR and running the customs house at his will. "We want all the customs houses of the country to follow the same rules."
Contacted, customs commissioner Mr Pramanik told the FE he runs the customs house in line with the NBR rules.
He said the Chittagong customs house follows 'random check' method as the port handles a large volume of goods. But, since Mongla customs house gets low volume of goods, it has enough time for carrying out 100 per cent physical examination of goods.
"We take action against unscrupulous businessmen taking into consideration the gravity of offences. In this case, revenue involvement is also taken into consideration," said Mr Pramanik.
He also said in last fiscal the customs house realised some Tk 900 million as revenue from mis-declaration of goods. This year some Tk 200 million has already been realised.