The Chittagong Customs House (CCH) has failed to achieve the target of collection of taxes in the just-ended fiscal year (2019-20).
Last year, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) fixed a Tk 582.98-billion (Tk 58,298 crore) tax collection target for the CCH for the last fiscal year.
But, the CCH could collect taxes worth around Tk 417.67 billion (Tk 41,767 crore) in fiscal year 2019-20 (FY '20) which ended on June 30 this year, Tk 165.31 billion (Tk 16,531 crore) less than the target set by the NBR, officials said.
"The CCH collected Tk 16,531 crore less or 28.36 per cent less than the tax collection target set by the NBR for the customs house for the last fiscal year," a top official said.
Talking to the FE, Commissioner of CCH Mohammed Fakhrul Alam attributed an unusual situation, induced by Covid-19, to the yawning gap between actual revenue collection figure and the target set in 2019 by the NBR.
"We had fixed the target of collection of taxes at Tk 58,298 crore. But, the CCH could collect taxes worth around Tk 41,767 crore in 2019-20 fiscal year," he said.
"The overall customs activities were not normal in 2019-20 financial year. The customs activities were hampered for coronavirus outbreak in Bangladesh. The import and delivery of high-value goods, including luxurious items, witnessed a significant decline in the last fiscal year due to the Covid-10 pandemic. As a result, the collection of taxes at CCH fell below the target in FY '20," he stated.
Sources said, Covid-19 outbreak in the country and the global pandemic simultaneously with the coronavirus-induced nationwide over two-month long government holidays and lockdown affected Bangladesh's export and import severely which resulted in the low tax collection at the CCH.
During the 65 days virus-induced nationwide shutdown, only essential goods were allowed to be imported and exported and thus Chittagong Port handled the emergency or necessary items, a port official said.
"No luxurious and high value taxable goods almost were not released from the port during the prolonged government holidays from March 26 to May 30," he mentioned.
However, during that time, the CCH remained opened for 24 hours to clear emergency or necessary goods, including foods, medicines, medical equipment, personal protective equipment, mask and other live saving items. The officials performed their duties round the clock risking their lives during that period, CCH and port sources said.
Clearing of other items were severely hampered during that time, they mentioned.
According to the CCH, its revenue collection target of July 2019 was Tk 48.08 billion (Tk 4,808 crore) but the customs house collected only Tk 37.24 billion in the first month of the last fiscal year.
The target of collection of taxes in August 2019 was Tk 5,115 crore, but the CCH could collect only Tk 2,926 crore in that month.
The target of collection of taxes in September 2019 was Tk 4,296 crore, but the CCH collected Tk 3,446 crore.
The target of collection of taxes in October 2019 was Tk 5,188 crore and the CCH collected only Tk 3,914 crore.
The tax collection target of November 2019 was Tk 5,828 crore and the CCH collected only Tk 3,468 crore.
The tax collection target of December 2019 was set at Tk 5,240 crore, but the CCH collected Tk 3,674 crore only.
Its tax collection target in January 2020 was Tk 5,509 crore and only Tk 3,820 crore was collected in the first month of FY '20 second half.
The February 2020 tax collection target was Tk 4,771 crore and Tk 3,995 crore was collected.
Tax collection target of March 2020 was Tk 5,365 crore and the collected figure for the month was Tk 3,394 crore.
The tax collection target of April 2020 was Tk 6,106 crore but the CCH collected only Tk 2,126 crore.
The target of collection of taxes in May in 2020 was 5,984 crores taka, but CCH
The figure of collected taxes in May was Tk 2,509 crore against Tk 5,984 crore target while June's tax collection figure was Tk 4,171 crores and 15 lakh against a target of Tk 4,571 crore and 39 lakh.