Importers have been exempted from payment of all import taxes on different types of seeds of spices and pulses including pepper and coriander.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has withdrawn the duties and taxes on import of those seeds by issuing a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO), dated December 1, 2019.
Officials said the NBR waived all of the import taxes on seeds to facilitate local farming of spices and pulses. The import duties have been waived at the requests of seed importers' associations, they said.
In the SRO, the customs wing of the NBR waived customs duty (CD), regulatory duty (RD) and supplementary duty (SD) on import of coriander seeds, pepper seeds, wheat seeds wrapped up to 2.5 kilograms and different types of pulses.
However, the NBR has tagged three conditions, including the use of labels on the packets of seeds stating 'seed for sowing only' to check abuse of the duty exemptions for importers.
There were 25 per cent CD, 20 per cent SD and 3.0 per cent RD on import of seeds for sowing pepper of genus pipper.
Importers of coriander seed were required to pay 25 per cent CD and 3.0 per cent RD.
Wheat seeds wrapped or canned up to 2.5 kilograms will also stand exempted from payment of import taxes, the SRO said.
However, importers of beans, small red beans, kidney beans including white pea beans, bambara beans, cow peas, broad beans, horse beans and pigeon peas would have to pay 5.0 per cent customs duty.
Talking to the FE, Bangladesh Seed Association general secretary FR Malik hailed the decision and said the farmers had to bear the cost of import taxes of seeds.
"The farmers want hi-yield seeds but Bangladesh has yet to develop capacities to produce such seeds for spices and pulses," he said.
He also said the government should take a move to produce hi-yield seeds to reduce import dependence.
He, however, said the country's weather is not conducive to producing some types of seeds.
As per tagged conditions, the importers will have to submit a certificate to the customs authorities that must contain the germination rate of seeds and its applicability in tropical countries.
It should mention the harvesting period issued by the seeds certification agency of exporting countries on import of packaged seeds up to 1.0 kg that will directly be sold to farmers.
Importers will have to obtain a permission from Director General (seeds) of Agriculture Ministry on the amount of seeds to be imported.
They should explain the necessity of import of seeds packaged up to 25 kg before opening letters of credit.
Description of seeds and labels mentioning 'seed for sowing only' should be pasted on the packages of seeds.
Customs will not allow import of any types of seeds without packaging, the SRO said.