Some 64 types of import and export goods, including a slew of edible items, will get a speedy release from ports under a maiden decree meant for the steadying supply chain.
Bangladesh customs has listed these commodities to be placed under the perishable category deserving rapid port release for priority marketing, officials said.
Those products will be released within 48 hours of the bill-of-entry submission to the customs authority after its assessment.
To this effect, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has issued 'Speedy disposal and Release of Perishable Goods Rules-2021', with effect from August 11, 2021.
Customs officials said they had issued the rules to resolve complexities over the release of perishable goods from ports keeping their quality and quantity unchanged.
Importers, exporters, or other agents have to submit attested copies of import-export documents with the bill of entry to take delivery of the consignments.
"In case of non-intrusive or physical inspection, the customs authority would have to submit the inspection report (expeditiously) within 24 hours," it is stated in the rules.
Each of the customs houses will dedicate a group of officials or a section to the speedy release of these goods.
However, the 48 hours' time for the release of the designated perishables will not be applicable in case of revenue arrears or other changes by the importers or exporters.
Importers, exporters, or other agents have to furnish 'specialised certificate', if need be, to get speedy release of their products from ports.
Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, Bangladesh Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, plant quarantine department and fish quarantine department issue such specialized certificate for some import or export products.
In case of false declaration on perishable products or delay in releasing products causing its damage, the customs authority would put them on auction within the shortest possible time.
Highly perishable goods such as sugar and salt that cannot be put on auction for any reason could be handed over or sold to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) by fixing a price.
In case of not having any disputes, the auction has to be completed within 48 hours after handover to a management committee of such goods.
The rules allow an aggrieved person to lodge appeal or respond to show-cause notices from the customs.
The perishables listed under the rules are: edible oils, tea leaf, coffee, medicine (with six months' date of expiry), raw materials of drugs, cosmetics, foods items, raisins, soyaberi D, sugar candy, tamarinds, fresh and frozen vegetables, raw turmeric, ginger, chili, garlic, onions, mushroom, betel leaf, rawhide, fertilizer, nuts, gur, butter oil, ghee, coconut, betel nut, frozen and salted fish, frozen and processed meat, dry fish, pickles, chanachur, noodles, chips, vermicelli, biscuits, chocolates, chicken, duck or other birds' eggs, milk and milk products, testing salt, normal salt, beat salt, sugar, chickpeas, lentils, food-grains, potato seeds, oilseeds, tobacco (unprocessed), dates, fresh fruits, palm, raw rubber, fresh capsicum and flower, mushroom, living plants, seedlings, yeast, fish fry, live fish, chicken, duck, birds or animals etc.
The new set of rules, first of its kind, has been prepared following recommendations from stakeholders, including the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), the Federation of Bangladesh Customs Clearing and Forwarding Agents Associations, Port Authorities across the country, and managing director of Biman Bangladesh airlines.
The NBR drafted the rules as per condition of the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organisation to facilitate 'ease of doing business'.
As per WTO-TFA, customs authorities should ensure fast-track clearance of perishable goods.
Importers and clearing-forwarding agents hailed the new rules with the hope for easing of procedural delays in release of these goods-mostly daily necessaries.
A C&F agent, Md Feroz Alam, says release of perishable goods often faced unusual delay in ports in the absence of any specific rules for the customs.
"Sometimes, importers have to count store rent even for the products under zero duty," he said in appreciating this one of ease-of-doing-business measures.