National Board of Revenue (NBR) has extended the duty benefit on import of fire safety equipment by the exportoriented ready-made garment (RMG) industries to help them comply with the safety rules. It has also relaxed the condition of importing the materials under the benefit by scraping the provision of availing the facility only for once. Now the RMG industries will be able to import the materials enjoying the benefit under certain conditions whenever they need, according to a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO), issued on March 11. NBR’s Customs Wing issued the SRO, signed by NBR Chairman Md Mosharrof Hossain Bhuiyan.

In the new SRO, the wing has brought some amendments to its previous SRO, issued in this regard in 2017. It has included a number of fire-safety items in the list of reduced import duty. Import taxes on those items are ranging from 31.07 per cent to 104.79 per cent as per the customs law. RMG industries often have to import the firesafety materials paying high duty, as most of them need to import those several times for renovation and upgradation of firesafety measures of the factories, officials said. A number of RMG units are conducting BMRE (balancing, modernisation, rehabilitation and expansion) activities to increase the productivity of their factories. Under the new SRO, the RMG industries have to pay only 5.0 per cent customs duty (CD) on import of some new equipments.

The new equipments in the waiver list include electric-resistance welded pipe andfittings of iron and steel, auto sprinkler system and equipments like timer and sensor. In 2017, NBR waived all duty-taxes and value added tax (VAT), keeping only 5.0 per cent CD on import of a wide range of fire-safety equipments. Now the list has been extended further by issuing the new SRO, following the proposals of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA). Officials said NBR offered the benefit to help the RMG industries comply with the safety requirements of international buyers after the Rana Plaza collapse and the Tazreen fire incident. However, the RMG industries have to follow some conditions to avail the facility. The units will not be allowed to import fire-safety equipments that are not included in its fire-safety layout plan.

The RMG industries will not be allowed to import the items under the benefit to use for other purposes, except fire-safety measures of the respective factory. Besides, the importers of the items must be registered with the VAT authority of NBR. For availing the duty benefit, the importers will have to submit necessary documents to the customs officials, including certificates of international inspection body, which prepared the lay-out plan, and approval of their trade associations concerned. They also have to obtain a certificate from the relevant customs or VAT office after installation of the equipments in the factory. Relevant customs bond commissionarate or VAT office will conduct physical inspection of the factories to verify installation of the imported equipments.