Chittagong port, Bangladesh. file Photo
In the new law, the service sector is being added to goods. However, as in the existing law, the word 'control' is no longer being used.
The Import and Export (Control) Act, of 1950, enacted 21 years before independence, is still in force in Bangladesh. But it's no longer there. In the context of many discussions and criticisms, finally, after 74 years, an initiative has been taken to make a new law in line with the times. It is called the 'Import and Export Act, of 2024'. The title of the new Act will not contain the word 'control' of imports and exports.
According to sources in the Ministry of Commerce, the Office of the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports (CCIE) prepared the draft of the new law and sent it to them recently. Anyone can comment on the draft by December 7. Chief Import and Export Controller Sheikh Rafiqul Islam said last Saturday (November 25, 2023),
"The new law is being made to control or prohibit the import or export of any goods and services in the field of foreign trade expansion, development and special areas." We hope that all types of businessmen, including importers and exporters, will get better services after the passing of this law.
According to the draft law, it is expedient and necessary to control or ban the import or export of any goods and services in the areas of achieving economic prosperity, development and protection of domestic industry, protection of public health and environment, development of foreign trade and in particular areas for the purpose of building 'Smart Bangladesh'. So the law is being made anew.
According to sources in the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Commerce has sent the draft to the Cabinet Department to pass the law in the current calendar year. But since there is no opportunity to sit the session of the parliament during the current term of the government, there is no chance of it being passed this year. For that, it has been returned to the Ministry of Commerce from the Cabinet Department. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce will hold another consultative meeting after receiving feedback on the draft. It will be sent to the Ministry of Law in one round for legal examination.
After that, when the new government takes over, initiatives will be taken to pass this law. When the existing Import and Export (Control) Act was enacted, it only dealt with the import and export of goods. For that, the new law is talking about the import and export of goods as well as services. The existing law was amended once in 1962 and again in 1975 during the Bangladesh period. Apart from this, the work of CCIE has been modernized through the issuance of notifications from time to time, but this is the first time that the legislative initiative has been taken.
Import Authorization Certificate (IRC) is required from CCIE to import goods and services from abroad. And even if you want to export goods abroad, you have to take the Export Permission Certificate (ERC) from the same office. In both cases, there are several conditions, which importers and exporters have to comply with. Violation of any provision is punishable with imprisonment of up to one year or a fine or both under the existing law. In the draft of the new law, it is said to keep the provision of imprisonment for one year. However, the amount of the fine has been specified, it will be a maximum of 10 lakh taka. Violation of any provision of existing law provides for trial by a Magistrate of the first class.
According to the new law, the offense will be tried by a Judicial Magistrate or a Metropolitan Magistrate. The word 'First Class' has been omitted in the new Act. It is further stated that the original text of the Act shall be in Bengali and the Government shall publish a reliable English translation of the original text if deemed necessary. In case of any conflict between the Bengali and English texts, the Bengali text shall prevail. After the new law is passed, the 1950 law will be repealed.
Almost all the exporters who are exporting products with ERC from CCIE have the same opinion that the law needs to be updated earlier. It has been lying for so long due to a lack of initiative by the Ministry of Commerce and CCIE. Former president of knitwear industry owners association BKMEA. Fazlul Haque said, "Even though the law is being changed very late, it is a good thing. We welcome But we want easy and hassle free service.
The purpose of making the new law will be effective only if there are no hidden complications behind providing services. Fazlul Haque mentioned that imports and exports are no longer effectively controlled anywhere in the world and said, "It is good to know that the word 'control' is not included in the name of the new law."