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Bangladesh - February 28, 2024

Date jams at port but fire in market

Staff Correspondent : In order to take advantage of the duty exemption, the importers had made a ‘slow-down’ plan to release the dates from the port. However, the ‘mind like’ duty did not decrease. Meanwhile Roja is knocking on the door. As a result, their lantern of hope has been silenced. Now there has been a problem as the importers have fallen into the trap of selling dates. Customs authorities are charging high prices even on low-priced dates. Customs also has slow pace of clearance process. More than a thousand containers filled with dates are stuck in the port. Late discharge of dates from the port has created some complications in the supply chain, which is pushing up prices.
Demand for dates is highest during the Ramadan than any other time of the year. Some unscrupulous businessmen used this opportunity to increase the demand for various carpentry for several years. Although the duty rate is a bit higher this time, due to various reasons, dates are now at a ‘fire price’ in the market. Despite some reduction, the price of all kinds of dates has increased by Tk 100 to Tk 400 compared to last year due to the high tariff rate and rising dollar.
According to the importers, traders requested to reduce the duty of dates four-five months ago. After this, even after the Prime Minister gave instructions, there was a delay for two weeks to reduce the duty. Despite all this, now due to excesses of customs on taxation, quick release is not possible. Harassment is going on in the name of verification. Dates that are supposed to be redeemed in one day, take four-five days to do.
However, the customs authorities say that those who have made the port a warehouse to take advantage of the government’s duty exemption, are all big businessmen.
Instead of 25 percent, the government has given 10 percent tax exemption. Fasting is also near. So, the importers are now all trying to get the dates together. Basically, those who did not redeem dates in the hope of more duty relief, their products are stuck.
Assistant Commissioner of Chittagong Custom House, Sultan Arefin, said that many people have cleared the goods without waiting for the duty exemption. Those who have not redeemed their dates so far, their products are stuck. No one is being harassed in customs clearance. If everyone wants to tax all goods on one day, then the situation will be complicated.
Customs revenue officer Zahurul Islam said, those whose goods are stuck at the port, they are all big party. They have not redeemed the product so far hoping for more profit. There is no customs liability here. 60 to 70 containers of products are being discharged every day. Whereas 15 days ago only 5 to 10 containers were cleared per day.
19 Containers full of dates stuck in depot
There are about 1000 containers filled with dates in 19 private depots in Chittagong. Arabian Dates Factory, Royal Fresh Foods, Sapoana Food Trading Corporation, Madina Foods, Ramisa BD, Royal Fresh Foods, Eddy Fruits and Allah Rahmat Stores have the most dates in these containers.
Among the 19 depots, Port Link Logistics has a maximum of 392 single containers of 20 feet length. Brothers also has 282 single containers. Eastern Logistics has 50 single containers. The rest of the containers are in other depots. When asked, Secretary of Bangladesh Inland Container Depot Association Ruhul Amin Sikder said, never in the past have so many containers accumulated in the depot before Ramadan.
Why release late
It is known that around 1000 date containers are lying in Chittagong Port and various depots. More than 400 containers have been lying there for two months. Chanchal Chowdhury, the leader of Sonargaon Associates, one of the top C&F companies engaged in the sale of dates, said that Sirajul Islam, president of Fruit Importers Association, has around 200 containers of dates and 100 containers of Royal Fresh dates in his depot. On January 3, these date-filled containers arrived in the country. Each container holds 24 to 26 tons of dates. Clearance of goods is delayed due to customs complications.
Abul Kalam Azad, the owner of C&F company Amanat Traders, said that about 150 containers of dates belonging to Madina Group and NASA Group were stuck with him. Now there is some redemption.
Half of demand in Ramadan
The annual demand of dates in the country is about 100,000 tonnes. More than half of it, i.e. 50 to 60 thousand tons is needed in Ramadan. However, the entire demand has to be met through imports. As a result, any impact on imports plays a major role in increasing prices. Generally, about 28 varieties of dates come to the country from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia, Jordan and Algeria.
Price of dates increased by 60 pc
The government has reduced the import duty by 10 percent this month to keep the price of dates under control. However, it did not have much impact on the market. According to the information of the government agency TCB, last year at this time, the lowest price of ordinary dates was Tk 150, which is now Tk 250. According to the agency, the price of dates has increased by about 17 percent in a year. However, the real picture of the market says otherwise. Yesterday, on Monday, it was found that the retail market of Dhaka and Chittagong sold a kg of open dates of normal quality at Tk 120 to Tk 130 last year. Now it is selling for Tk200 to Tk220. Dates of Zahidi variety are the most sold in the market. A year ago, dates of this variety were available at Tk150 to Tk170. Now have to count Tk270 to Tk300.
Ajwa, Mariam, Mabrum and Medjul are among the elite dates. Among them, the price of Ajwa and Maryam dates was Tk 700 to Tk 900 per kg last year. Now the cost of buying these two types of dates is Tk1,100 to Tk1,300. Apart from this, Medjul dates have increased by Tk 400 per kg compared to last year, from Tk 1,400 to Tk 1,600.
Dhaka’s Karwan Bazar date trader Md. Hanif said that the price of the dollar and the duty rate have increased. Due to this, the price of dates is about 40 to 60 percent higher than last year. People are buying less dates due to price increase.
General Secretary of Khatunganj Trade and Industries Association ChayedChagir Ahmed said that although the government has given duty exemption, it has no effect on dates. However, if the dates lying at the port are released on time, there will be a positive impact on the market.
Tariffs fixed on dates
At the beginning of this financial year, traders had to pay a total of 53 percent duty on the import of dates. The National Board of Revenue (NBR) on February 8 reduced the duty from 25 percent to 15 percent. Traders say that the tariff price of dates is now $1,000 to $2,750 per ton. Along with this, customs duty is 15 percent, regulatory duty is 3 percent and VAT is 15 percent. Besides advance income tax and advance tax has to be paid 5 percent. In all, 43 percent duty still has to be paid.
What importers saying
Sirajul Islam, president of Bangladesh Fresh Fruits Importers Association, Haji Salim of Madina Group and Nazrul Islam Majumdar of NASA Group have the most containers.
President of Bangladesh Fresh Fruits Importers Association Sirajul Islam has complained that the customs authorities are harassing the importers in clearing the goods. He said, compared to last year, every dollar has to be charged extra Tk25 to Tk30 more. However, the customs officials are fixing the assessment value as per their wish. It appears that the dates which are imported for $1000, the customs are charging $2500. This is delaying the redemption process. The goods which could be redeemed in one day, now take four-five days. This increases the cost burden of the importers. Apart from that, NBR has been reluctant to reduce the tariff even after the instructions given by the Prime Minister. He believes that this is also one of the reasons behind the congestion at the port.
Commenting that the duty rate needed to be reduced further, the businessman said that now duty has to be paid from Tk 140 to Tk 208 per kg of dates imported in carton form. Which had to be paid last year only Tk10.58. To redeem his 40 containers of expensive dates, he has to pay a duty of eight and a half crore rupees. Last year, he paid a duty of Tk70 lakhs on this amount of dates.
Omar Farooq, the owner of Dates and Dry Fruits Importer of Dates and Dry Fruits in Chittagong, Omar Farooq said that there is a crisis in the market due to some dates being stuck at the port.

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