Monday, February 18, 2019 | ePaper

Seal the entry points before conducting drives at shopping malls

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THE traders at Bashundhara city shopping mall in Dhaka on Saturday confined Customs Intelligence Officials for seizing illegally imported 262 units of mobile handsets worth Tk 2.9 crore from their shops. Customs Officials conducted the raid with the help of Rapid Action Battalion and seized the phone sets of different brands, including 100 iPhone sets. Shop owners complained that the Custom Officials conduct drive each year before Eid festival, seize different gadgets, and never return those, though they ensure the traders to get back the handsets by showing proper documents. Here the question arises how the mobile sets reach to the city malls? Where was the vigilance team of Customs at the Airports?
It is a matter of concern that Bangladesh is losing Tk 800 crore in revenues every year because of illegal imports of mobile phones. According to Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association, Bangladesh imported about 20 lakh handsets, including 15 lakh smart devices, at Tk 1,897 crore in 2016. About 50 lakh pieces of mobile handsets are brought in to the country through illegal channels a year. Around 99 percent iPhones come through grey markets which have no warranty. The tax on a phone that costs Tk 50,000 is around Tk 15,000 which leads business to the illegal way.
Regulator's efforts to crack down on illegal imports are some extent laudable as the customers do not get after-sale service. The drives encourage legal imports and customers to avail the maximum benefit of an original device. Bangladesh is recognized as the ninth-largest handset market in the world which would soon move up to the seventh position. The illegal import occurred due to high tariff rate 5-10 percent. As the Smartphone is the carrier of the government's digitization process, the import duty should be low until global brands set up plants in the country.
Side by side, the Customs Intelligence should increase their vigilances at the entry points - especially at airports and land border stations, so that smuggled sets cannot reach the shopping malls. Otherwise, the drives at shopping malls before the Eid could invite widespread criticism for the Customs Department.

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