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‘Dates to remain pricy despite PM’s directive’

Published : Tuesday, 13 February, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 302

Functionaries of Bangladesh Fresh Fruits Importers Association (BFFIA) sound skeptical about reducing the price of dates during the fasting month of Ramada despite call for reduction of import duty.
At a press conference at National Press Club on Monday they said the rate at which the duty has been reduced and assessed value of import make it almost impossible to reduce the price much. High price of buying from international market, high cost of dollar and faulty assessed value are making price reduction difficult.

President of the association Serajul Islam spoke on the occasion, Senior vice president Hazi Md Kamal, joint secretary Md Unus and Finance Secretary Md Abdur Rahman were also present in the event.
Serajul Islam said NBR has failed to comply with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinas order in this respect. He said the National Board of Revenues notification on February 7 has decreased import duty on dates from 25 per cent to 10 per cent but the high tariff value now eats up the remaining benefit.

He said decreased customs value of dates and import duty will not benefit consumers because businessmen didn release import consignments earlier hoping reduction of duty and paid for not unloading the stock.

And many more date/palm imports have opened L/Cs which are currently in the pipeline. It should be noted that there are already about 400-500 date containers at Chattogram port which the importers have not yet taken delivery yet waiting for reduced import duty. The NBR notification has not reduced to the desired extent.

 Date importers said there is a demand of 60,000 tonnes of dates in Ramadan. Last year there was 5 per cent advance income tax and 5 per cent advance VAT on import of dates.

This time the government has imposed customs duty of 25 per cent, regulatory duty of 3 per cent and VAT of 15 per cent. 53 per cent duty has to be paid on it.

Not only that, the toll is being charged higher than the purchase price. The cost of import has increased a lot. As a result, dates will be out of reach of common people during fasting, the association leaders said.

Importers highlighted that the current assessed values do not align with international market prices, leading to an unreasonable escalation of tariffs.

They pointed out to the import duty on dates, which was sold at Tk200 per kg during Ramadan last year, now sells at Tk208, resulting in more than a doubling of prices in wholesale market this year.

They said the current high prices of dates are making it unaffordable to buyers. Importers argue that the failure to set assessed values based on actual prices leads to unnecessary financial burdens.

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