Visitors to be brought under more vigilance

NBR to introduce API system

In order to check possible intrude of any suspected Bangladeshi expatriate with alleged engagement with militant organization, the government is going to enforce additional measures in all airports by tightening the security system. As part of it, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has decided to introduce Advance Passenger Information (API) system in all airports to facilitate officials scrutinize the information of incoming international passengers prior to their landing here.

The revenue authority will initiate this system so that the customs authority could be informed about the incoming passengers before their arrival. The system will exponentially help the customs officials detect suspected passengers and take necessary steps against them. Customs officials believe that the move will intercept the arrival of suspected militants or transnational smugglers into the country and take effective step with this regard.

The NBR will form a Customs Risk Management Unit (CRMU) this year and API system is a provision under the system. A senior customs official told Bangladesh Post that the API system would help them ensure the compliance of international passengers as customs wing would have previous information about these passengers' intention of arrival into this country.Currently, the customs officials do not have any previous information about any incoming international passenger.

They could verify the information of passengers only after their arrival, a tough job for customs officials to scrutinise passengers' information and take effective measures if required.A National Risk Targeting Center will also be formed under CRMU that will manage international passenger traffic and control goods, cargo or transport. The CRMU will conduct its drives with a comprehensive manner coordinating with all other government agencies.

The Finance Bill-2019 has incorporated this provision to strengthen the customs department and intercept fraudulence done through customs houses and land or sea ports. Besides, NBR in order to identify and evaluate risks, and develop the necessary counter measures will also form a Customs Control unit. NBR sources said the pivotal duty of this unit will be ensuring compliance with the import, export, transit, transfer and storage of goods at customs houses.

It will also monitor the presence and movements of consignments imported into, and exported from Bangladesh and in transit.In order to identify and evaluate the risk and develop the necessary counter measures, the unit will conduct random check based on risk analysis, sources said.The NBR has also inserted two sub sections- 197B and 197C to the Customs Act-1969 through the finance bill to empower the unit to ensure more transparency in customs checking.

The importers, as per the sub section- 197B, will not be allowed clearing of their consignments from customs control unit in any customs port or customs station without electronically scanning their goods.If electronic scanning system is not installed at any port, the competent authority may allow clearance of such consignments by performing physical examination.

The revenue board earlier set up modern electronic scanners at all customs houses to efficiently check out all imported consignments as many unscrupulous traders used to miss declaration taking the scope of weak customs checking system.When the new units are started functionally, all types of fraudulent practices at customs houses will be resisted as the unscrupulous businesses will not be able to carry out their fraudulences any more, the NBR official said.

Currently, there are huge allegations against a section of dishonest traders that they are involved in miss declaration, over invoicing, and under voicing, evading huge government revenue and raising serious security concern.Tax officials believe that the initiatives will strengthen national security as some miscreants through miss declaration could bring explosives or banned chemicals which will be intercepted with these moves.