The local market with smuggled spices because of uneven tariff value while the importers at Khatungonj and Chaktai are loosing interest in the business, thus, seriously destabilising the local spices market.
The country's traditional wholesale commodity supply line is also shrinking and the local retailers are getting more and more dependent on smuggled goods.
General Secretary of Khatungonj Trade and Industries Association Syed Sagir Ahmed made the observation while talking to The Financial Express on the current import trend at his office.
He further said that the traders have also lost their capital failing to cope with costing of import primarily because of selling goods imported under compulsion during the 1/11.
"The businesses have lost capital as they had to sell commodities at much lower prices than their import cost during the last caretaker government. The situation has now further aggravated as we have to face an uneven competition with our neighbours in terms of tariff structure and the highest interest rates claimed by our banks," he said.
He suggested one-stop service centre to do everything from issuing industrial license to providing financial and utility services from the same for rapid growth of industries and employment generation.
Detailing Bangladesh's uneven tariff value with India, Bhutan and Myanmar, the leader of Khatungonj Trade Association said that the price of cardamom per ton in international market is US$ 5000 but CRF value of the same in Bangladesh is $10,400 per ton. After paying duty the import price of one kg of cardamom stands at Tk 1010 whereas its local market price per kg is Tk 950.
Import price of cumin per kg is Tk 370 at international rate between $ 2000 and $2500 per ton while its local market price per kg is Tk 300 per kg.
"The government is deprived of several crores of taka as revenue from cumin alone as huge quantity of cumin is being smuggled into the country across the border from India," Mr. Ahmed said.
A total of 62 per cent import duty on cloves, 62 per cent on pepper and 109 per cent duty on raisin have caused them excessive high in import which is not in conformity with the present market price, he said and demanded equal tariff value with India, Myanmar, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
These three items smuggled from India have also flooded the retail market in Bangladesh.
Import duty on cloves and cumin are 6.0-9.0 per cent and 20 per cent respectively in India while they are 62 per cent and 64 per cent here.
Ahmed said that they have informed about the plight of spices importers to Commerce Minister GM Quader in a letter last week. "We are expecting an early positive step in this regard from the government," he said.
He questioned why the interest rate on bank loan should be 18 per cent in our country. "It should come down to 11-12 per cent."
Ahmed was critical of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) as it is charging abnormal duty on turnover at Khatungonj and Chaktai. He said that the NBR is taking an additional amount of nearly Tk 4.0 billion a month from this wholesale market under the turnover rules which should be repealed.
Ahmed, also director of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that bank limit has been reduced following recent stringent measures taken by the central bank which will obstruct business and industry.
Putting emphasis on the need to establish a deep sea port at Sonadia Island the business leader said a mega port to be built on a priority basis along the coastline will help the country's economy immensely by providing regional cooperation to India, Myanmar and southwestern China.