The government has decided to introduce post-shipment inspection for import consignments to prevent money laundering as well as terror financing, if there is any, in Bangladesh.
The decision was taken at a meeting Thursday between Finance and Planning Minister M Saifur Rahman and the committee on illegal money transfer at the Finance Division.
"We have directed to conduct post-shipment inspection especially for consignments of food imports for checking the illegal foreign currency transfer operations," Saifur told reporters after the meeting.
To a query, he said terror financing, if there is any in the country, will be stopped following successful implementation of the new move.
Saifur also said he has already signed the amendment of the existing money laundering act that will soon be placed before the cabinet committee, for approval.
Amendment of another law is on the cards as the government is very serious to know about the sources of terror financing and the destination of smuggled foreign currency.
"But incidents like bomb blasts are happening so fast that we can't even stop those though we are doing our best to find out the culprits responsible for such terrorist activities," he said as suicide bombers killed at least eight people and hurt 40 in the northern region Thursday.
The meeting was told that the central bank became sure of some cases involving "smuggling out" of a substantial amount of foreign currency by international syndicates.
Local businessmen, dishonest customs and bank officials are parts of the syndicates as they help in channelling out the foreign currency by giving fake letters of credit and customs documents, the sources said.
To stop such practices, the meeting also made the provision for submitting bank draft, instead of 'chalan', against the imported consignments, mandatory.
For the cases of imported goods worth over US $ 5000, the concerned bank branches have been directed to send 'swift messages' to the customs authorities at ports.
The meeting stressed the need for coordinated efforts by banks and customs officials to help prevent any illegal money transfer operations. Such coordinated efforts were absent before.
Besides, the meeting directed land ports authorities including those at Hilly, Bangabandha and Tamabil to improve telecommunications and warehouses facilities.
"If the new moves are meant for checking illegal money transfers, we always welcome them," Federation of the Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) president Mir Nasir Hossain told the FE.
But the government should implement the post-shipment inspection and take steps very carefully so that businessmen do not face harassment and lose time that may lead to increase in the costs of imports, he observed.
The Bangladesh Bank will soon issue a circular on the post-shipment inspection procedures and other related steps.