National

Birgunj back in business as revenue exceeds target in 6 months

- BHUSAN YADAV, BIRGUNJ

Apr 28, 2016-

Birgunj Customs Office has exceeded its monthly revenue target for the first time in six months in signs of improving trade through the Birgunj-Raxaul border point.

According to the customs office, revenue collection for mid-March to Mid-April (Nepali month of Chaitra) stood at Rs7.31 billion, exceeding the target by four percent.

The customs point, through which 60 percent of the country’s international trade takes place, was at a low ebb for four long months till the first week of February, thanks to border protests and unofficial blockade by the southern neighbour. During the first eight months of the current fiscal, export and import through this route had decreased by 69 percent and 67 percent respectively, according to records maintained by Nepal Rastra Bank.

Sensing difficulty in meeting revenue collection target due to the embargo, the Department of Customs had reduced the target for Birgunj by Rs 30 billion.

Before the blockade, Birgunj Customs Office had been collecting Rs 300 million a day in revenue. At present, the daily revenue collection stands at Rs 250 million, according to customs officials.

Sewantak Pokharel, chief of Birgunj Customs Office, said that importers who had moved to other trade routes are yet to return [to Birgunj] fearing another round of protest in Birgunj.

“Most vehicle importers except those of Hyundai and Maruti have returned to Birgunj since mid-March,” said Pokharel.

Vehicle import is one of the main sources of revenue collection in Birgunj.

With trade through Birgunj customs more or less eased, the Department of Customs hopes to make up for the lost revenue by controlling undervaluation and smuggling.

Birgunj Customs Office has already started cracking down on illegal trade activities and bogus invoices of goods. It has also started revaluating goods imported by traders. The crackdown has helped the customs office collect an additional Rs 60 million in import revenue in the last two months.

In one such example, an additional Rs 800,000 was raised from a single cargo truck, which earlier had passed the customs clearance, said a customs official.

In another instance, the importer had declared IRs 55 per piece for baby frocks. In the customs price list, it was mentioned IRs 28 per piece. Likewise, a vest that was priced IRs 300 per piece on the customs price list was declared IRs 200 per piece by the importer.

A pair of leather shoes that had a price tag of IRs 600 was found to be released at IRs 72. Similarly, a leather belt priced at IRs150 was released at IRs 8 from the customs.

According to sources, several smuggling groups have shifted to other areas like Bara, Rautahat and Sarlahi customs points following the crackdown at Birgunj customs.

Normally, after customs agents declare the goods prices, customs officials conduct a physical inspection of the goods before giving them the clearance.

Published: 28-04-2016 08:37

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