Tariff Commission succeeded the East Pakistan branch of the Pakistan Tariff Commission. After independence of Bangladesh it started functioning as a directorate of the Ministry of Commerce with the new name Tariff Commission under a resolution of the Ministry dated 28 July 1973. It was reorganised as a statutory autonomous body and renamed Bangladesh Tariff Commission (BTC) in November 1992 under the Bangladesh Tariff Commission Act 1992. It now acts with a view to protecting domestic industries from unequal competition.
The Commission is headed by a chairman who holds the rank and status of a secretary to the government. The Commission has been divided into three wings ' Trade Policy Wing, Trade Remedies Wing, and International Cooperation Wing. Each Wing is headed by a Member. Besides, there is an Administrative section headed by the Secretary of the Commission. The total number of workforce in the Commission in April 2010 was 116 including the chairman, three members, one secretary, 35 officers, and 76 subordinate staff.
The major responsibility of the Commission is to develop recommendations on measures relating to protection of domestic industries, creation of a sound competitive environment for industrial production, ensuring optimal use of industrial resources, promotion of export of domestic goods, taking measures to prevent dumping or unfair practices in the importation and sale of foreign products, and increasing market access of domestic industries through bilateral, regional and multilateral agreements. The Commission is obliged to look into any matter referred to by the government. The Commission is to consider four important things in implementing its activities-market economy, economic environment, bilateral and multilateral trade and customs agreements, and public opinion. The Commission also works out necessary explanation and recommendations to the government for mitigating the possible losses that might be incurred by industries, consumers and general public in the process of implementation of its main-line recommendations.
The Commission carries out studies and formulates policies for rationalisation of tariff, liberalisation of import regime and development of an incentive structure for strengthening the domestic production and export base. It reviews, on a continuing basis, the tariffs on imported raw materials and intermediate inputs, as well as on capital goods. It establishes effective coordination with the national board of revenue, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the bangladesh bank, Ministry of Planning/planning commission and Ministry of Commerce for establishment of a rational and dynamic tariff structure consistent with the government policy of economic management.
The government import policy has a list of banned goods (that cannot be imported) and another one of restricted goods (that can be imported only on under certain specified conditions). The Commission monitors production of industrial units, which benefits from protection through such ban and restriction. The Commission can recommend to the Ministry of Commerce to revoke the ban if the quality of products deteriorates and their price is not maintained at satisfactory level or if the production level fails and causes capacity under-utilisation. The Commission also monitors the prices of the banned or restricted items. If the price of any banned or restricted item is increased except for factors such as rise in the price of raw materials or decline in the rate of exchange, the Commission can recommend to the Ministry to revoke the ban or restriction. The Commission is also the redressing authority for those, who may feel aggrieved by any decision regarding ban or restriction on import of any item.
The Commission has an active role in implementation of the industrial policy of the government. The government strategies under the industrial policy include rationalisation of the protection to domestic industries from external competition in consistence with the Charter of the World Trade Organisation and encouragement of industrial investment through tariff rationalisation and appropriate fiscal measures. The Commission is the designated authority to investigate complaints of dumping and the importation of subsidized products. It has the statutory authority to recommend the imposition of antidumping duties in cases of importation of products at dumped prices and countervailing measures in cases of importation of subsidised products. It can also recommend safeguard measures against any sudden surge of imports. The chairman of the Commission is a member of the National Council for Industrial Development (NICD) headed by the Prime Minister. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the NICD headed by the Minister of Industries, and of the Committee for Co-ordination among the relevant government agencies headed by the Secretary, Ministry of Industries. [Swapan Kumar Bala]