The Chattogram Customs Bond Commissionerate has stopped the licence of Halda Enterprise and locked its business identification number in 2013 on charges of bond facility manipulation.
Based on the bond commissionerate, Halda Enterprise, a garment accessories importer, illegally moved elsewhere the imported raw materials that had been brought under the bond facilities and meant for bonded warehouse storing. The importer thus escaped the payment of Tk 1.92 crore in customs duty.
After that, the business entity filed a writ with the High Court challenging the tax claims. The writ is still pending in court even though 8 years have passed, with the realisation of nearly Tk 2 crore revenue caught in a legal quagmire.
Halda is just one example among many, since more than Tk 4,792.14 crore is stuck in 9,283 cases filed by the Chattogram Customs House, Chattogram Customs, Excise & VAT Commissionerate and Chattogram Customs Bond Commissionerate.
Those cases are still awaiting disposal with the revenue officers, appellate tribunal, High Court and Appellate Division. Trials in some of the cases have been ongoing for 15 to 25 years, while new customs disputes are added to the total number of lawsuits every year.
Top revenue officials have stated that businesses that resort to tax funds often go to courts to delay the payments. The attitude results in long legal battles, with the case increasing every year.
Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said businessmen also suffer due to the prolonged legal battles over customs disputes.
He said since the cases are not settled, businessmen have their money for advance tax getting stuck.
Prof Md Salim Uddin, Chattogram University accounting teacher and also Islami Bank executive committee chairman, stated, “Many companies have their imported items released with bank guarantees. Earlier, there were irregularities in such cases as some businessmen showed the guarantees as fixed deposit receipts that would add interest if they could delay the customs payments.”