Betel nut imports rise

- SHANKAR ACHARYA, Parsa
Betel nut imports rise

Oct 26, 2014-

Betel nut imports, especially aimed at re-exporting to India, has been on a continuous rise. The product, which is imported from third countries, is smuggled to India on a large scale.

The government raised the customs duty to 30 percent from 20 percent on betel nuts last year to discourage the imports. The government also charges 13 percent VAT. However, the measure seems to have been ineffective.

Records at customs offices at dry ports in Sirsiya and Birgunj show 5.5 million tonnes of the product worth Rs 790 million was imported through the customs offices last fiscal year.

A total of 3.23 million tonnes worth Rs 558.5 million was imported through the Birgunj Customs Office alone. The Sirsiya Dry Port saw the imports of 2.25 million tonnes worth Rs 231.4 million.

These product is re-exported to India, a major consumer of betel nuts, after acquiring the certificates of origin of Nepal from local business chambers. Betel nuts are imported from countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

As the Indian government charges high customs duty on betel nuts imported from third countries, traders have been using the Nepali route to export the product to the Indian market illegally.

Based on the present price in the Indian market, traders earn a profit of Rs 3-5 per kg. On selling 1 tonne, a trader can earn up to Rs 1.05 million in profits.

Betel nuts imported through these two customs offices are transported to Sarlahi, Mahottari and Dhangadhi for re-export.

The customs offices also issue the clearance papers easily as the import is legitimate. Not only small, but also big traders are reportedly involved in the smuggling of betel nuts to India.

The police say they were studying the smuggling. “As our team is new in this area, we have been studying the nexus of illegal traders,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Bir Bahadur Oli, spokesperson for the Parsa District Police.

 

Published: 27-10-2014 09:25

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