It is astounding that 32.5 lakh tonnes of imported goods worth Tk 9,509 crore have been lying unclaimed for months at 17 sea and land customs houses and stations nationwide. Apparently, these clearing houses are now inundated with 100 types of goods that have been accumulating form July, 2016 till October, 2017. We understand that the rules stipulate that unless goods are not claimed within a month of arrival, they are supposed to be sold off. Yet we see no such move by the Customs authorities to follow the rules. It certainly raises eye brows because some of the items stored are beginning to deteriorate in quality and soon may be rendered worthless.
From what we understand of the situation, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has communicated repeatedly with authorities running these houses and stations enquiring about why these items are being hoarded against rules. Such inaction opens up the room for speculation that there are unscrupulous elements involved here who may wish to siphon off unclaimed goods. It is not merely a question of rules not being adhered to; rather unclaimed goods are taking up precious space at depots where legitimate importers may keep their goods upon import. Unfortunately, it would appear that we are fast becoming a nation that does not believe in following the rules of business. The same situation unfortunately exists at Chittagong port where importers have been counting the cost of delayed release, which, for some companies, can extend to months. We hope that Customs authorities will accelerate the settlement process of unclaimed containers and goods to both expedite business and generate revenue.