The NBR has said the implementation of this programme under the ASYCUDA software network will reduce fraud and money laundering. This will also save time and labour hours as well as provide reliable export statistics.

The NBR will launch the programme at the Summit Alliance Port (East) depot under the Custom House, Chattogram on September 1. Gradually 16 other depots will get the EGM modules by 18 November. An EGM module was introduced experimentally at the Esack Depot on March 1, 2020.

The EGM contains information on export products, especially, what kind of product, what is it’s worth, where it is being exported, and on which ship the goods are being transported. The shipping agent submits the EGM to the customs office.

The Chattogram Custom House said they found incidents of money laundering and fraud, done by exporting empty containers without goods, and embezzlement of export incentives because the EGM system was manual. These incidents will be stopped if the online EGM is launched.

On 23 August, Rakibul Hasan, second secretary (Customs Automation) of the NBR, sent a letter to the Commissioner of Chattogram Custom House intending to install 17 EGM modules.

As part of the programme, the members of the ASYCUDA team have already organised training at the Chattogram Custom House which was attended by representatives of export inspection officers, EGM branch officers, IT officers, shipping agents, freight forwarders, and clearing and forwarding agents.

Shahed Sarwar, director of the Bangladesh Shipping Agents’ Association, said, “Under the older system we saw that a EGM was not submitted even after the ship left the port with exported goods. Moreover, after manually submitting the EGM, the information could be changed by fabrication. As the process is becoming more software-based, there will be no more opportunities for fraud.”

He said, “Submitting the EGMs by going to the Chattogram Custom House took time. Now it can be done from anywhere. This saves time. Transparency and accountability are also ensured.”

According to the schedule, EGM Modules will be installed at the Summit Alliance Port (East) on September 1, Summit Alliance Port (West) on September 8, Ocean Container Limited on September 15, BM Container Depot on September 22, KDS Logistics on September 29, Ispahani Summit Alliance Terminal on October 6, Incontrade Limited on October 13, Portlink Logistics Center on October 20, Eastern Logistics, Golden Container, Nemsan Container Depot on  October 27, Shafi Motors, Vertex Off Logisticks, Chittagong Container Transportation on November 3, K&T Depot, QNS Container Services and Saber Ahmed Timber Company on November 10.

Ruhul Amin Sikder, general secretary of Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association, told TBS that in the past, shipping agents used to submit EGMs to the customs department 10-14 days after the ship carrying the container had left the port. Under the new rules, shipping agents will have to upload all information on export products to the ASYCUDA software network before the ship leaves the port. 

He further said in the previous manual system, if there was an incident of forgery in the container of any export products, there was no scope of checking it after the ship had left the port. Under the new rules, customs officials have the opportunity to check export goods in containers before the ship leaves the port. This has created an opportunity to uncover smuggling, money laundering, and other frauds.

Khairul Alam Sujan, director of the Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association (Bafa), said uploading the information online would make export trade easier.

Ali Reza Haider, assistant commissioner, Chattogram Custom House, said the online EGM module will be installed at the off-dock depots as per the schedule given by the NBR. The Chattogram Custom House has taken all kinds of preparations for this purpose.

Source : TBS News