Importers delay customs clearance citing controls

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 18, 2018-

Nepali importers have been holding back from clearing shipments arriving at Kolkata Port and transit points on the Nepal-India border, citing difficulties in getting bank loans and stricter customs controls. 

As a result, around 1,600 Nepal bound containers loaded with goods imported from the third countries have remained stuck at Kolkata Port and different Nepal-India border points.

Two weeks ago, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada had ordered customs officials to pay special attention to the customs valuation process to prevent revenue leakage. 

Following the minister’s instructions, customs officials have been rigorously checking the reference prices of imported goods to prevent under-invoicing and boost customs revenue collection. 

Meanwhile, commercial banks have tightened lending due to a shortage of loanable funds.

According to the Nepal Freight Forwarders’ Association, 640 loaded containers are yet to be cleared that have been stranded in India. 

“Importers have blamed the situation on a financial crunch as banks have been reducing loan amounts,” said Prakash Singh Karki, president of the association. “In addition, importers have reported that banks have been asking them to repay their loans before they come due.”

Moreover, stern government moves against under-invoicing have put off importers. False declaration by traders, lack of proper valuation by customs officials and false classification of goods lead to under-invoicing.

Karki accused the government of harassing traders in the name of increasing revenue collection. “The government should instead focus on minimising hassles in customs clearance that traders have been currently facing.”

According to the association, a large number of containers remain stranded at Sunauli, Kakkarbhitta and Panitanki border points. Similarly, imported automobiles have been piling up at Birgunj Customs.

Published: 18-03-2018 08:53

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