The government imposed regulatory taxes to discourage the import of fruits, but apple imports in FY23 increased by 17% compared to the previous fiscal year, making it one of the highest import tax generators.

Orange imports have decreased during the period, but it too was among the top import revenue earners in FY23, according to a report of the National Board of Revenue’s customs department.

Last year, the government took steps to discourage the import of over a hundred non-essential goods – such as fruits, cosmetics, furniture – following the Russia-Ukraine war which disrupted the supply chains and drove up the product prices in the international market.

The authorities imposed an additional 20% regulatory duty on the import of non-essential products from May 2022.

According to the Bangladesh Customs, over 15.62 lakh tonnes of apples were imported in FY23, which was about 2.3 lakh tonnes more than the imports in the previous fiscal year. The government collected around Tk992 crore duty-tax from imported apples last fiscal year, according to a preliminary report. However, a senior customs official told TBS, “This amount might be bigger than this estimation.”

Bangladesh imported around 2.2 lakh tonnes of oranges in FY23, which was 25% less than the previous fiscal year. The government collected around Tk1,112 crore duty-tax from the imported fruit in FY23, which was 14% higher compared to the previous fiscal year.

Devaluation of the taka against the dollar has driven up the cost of importing goods, which caused an increase in the revenue collection despite a drop in imports, said relevant sources.

Serazul Islam, president of Bangladesh Fresh Fruits Importer Association, could not be reached over phone for comments regarding the matter.

Diesel generates highest amount of import tax

According to the National Board of Revenue, duty-tax from the top 10 imported goods amounted to Tk26,495 crore or 28% of the total import tax collected by the government in FY23.

These products were: high speed diesel, sugar, furnace oil, clinker, broken stone, prefabricated steel sheet, coal, bitumen, orange, and apple.

The volume of import of six of these products declined in FY23 compared to the previous fiscal year due to the government’s austerity measures. These were: sugar, furnace oil which is mostly used for power generation, cement clinker, prefabricated steel sheet, bitumen, and orange.

Last fiscal year, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) collected the highest amount of import tax from 1.13 million tonnes of imported high speed diesel worth Tk670 billion. Import of the product increased by 33% in FY23 compared to the previous fiscal year.

Import of broken stone, and coal also surged in FY23.

Imports of clinker, the main raw material for cement production, fell by 1% last fiscal year, but the import tax from this sector has increased by 11%.

Prefabricated steel sheet imports dropped by 13% during the same period, while bitumen imports fell by 10%.

Besides, sugar imports, the second largest contributor to last fiscal year’s revenue, fell by 24%, and revenue collection from this sector fell by 4%. Its import decreased mainly due to the increase in prices, but the import duty has not decreased at that rate.

The country imported industrial raw materials and machines in large volumes, but they were not among the highest import tax generating goods as the import duties on them were low or zero.

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