A reputed Bangla newspaper reported recently that the government was considering zero customs duty on some essential commodities to make those available at low prices. These essential items include pulse, gram, wheat, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, pepper, coriander, flour, life-saving drugs etc. Indeed, our experience shows that zero duty benefit goes to the importer and wholesalers and not to the end consumers. It is well known to people concerned that zero duty is also misused as a tool to smuggle out foreign currency out of the country by over invoicing in import process. In this situation items with zero customs duty should be included in one per cent duty category in the next 2016-17 budget.
It will increase revenue to government exchequer. One per cent duty on the said items will have negligible impact on the consumers but a significant portion of over invoicing to drain out money will be reduced.
Md. Ashraf Hossain
8/A Ramna, Dhaka-1000.