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To make export and import activities in Bangladesh quicker, the government has made electronic payment of all types of duties, fees and charges in customs houses of more than Tk2m ($23,500), mandatory from 1 July, the first day of the fiscal new year.

And, from 1 January 2022, duties and charges of any amount must be paid electronically, affecting customs in airports, seaports and land ports.

E-payments of duties and charges at Kamalapur inland container depot were made mandatory last month, part of efforts to modernise customs in the country, simplify international trading and speed up the release of goods and services.

Bangladesh currently ranks at 168 out of 190 countries in ease of doing business, according to the World Bank.

To facilitate e-payments, Bangladesh’s central bank will keep open its real time gross settlement system (RTGS) for an additional two and half hours each day, up to 6.30pm.

Bangladesh’s largest state-owned bank, Sonali, will provide the necessary services to allow e-payment on weekends and holidays when the central bank’s RTGS system is shut.

The upgrade of hardware and software for the Automated System for Customs Data to facilitate e-payments will be completed by next month. All banks in Bangladesh will be brought under the RTGS system to enable e-payments.

Khondaker Muhammad Aminur Rahman, member, customs audit, modernisation and international trade, told The Loadstar the change to e-payments has been gradually increasing in recent years,

“But until now, the e-payment system has only been mandatory at Kamalapur ICD, it now will be expanded throughout the country,” he said.

Until now, only multinational companies and local large firms have made electronic payments. The majority of businesses still make cash payments to the customs department, he added.

And with cash payments still ruling, even during the pandemic-linked lockdown banks have been forced to keep branches at ports and land customs stations open to facilitate trade.

Traders have hailed the decision, saying the e-payment system would facilitate hassle-free payment of fees and charges.

“The world is advancing towards paperless trade and e-payments will also help lower human intervention in the trading system,” said Abdus Salam Murshedy, president, Exporters Association of Bangladesh.

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