Friday, 16 April, 2021

Customs upgrade yet to take desired pace

By Modnath Dhakal

Kathmandu, Nov. 9: The land acquisition process for customs upgrading in Bhadrapur and Maheshpur at the southern border with India is half-way.
The Department of Customs (DoC) is upgrading Thadhi in Siraha, Bhadrapur in Jhapa, Maheshpur in Nawalparasi, Suthauli in Kapilvastu and Satti in Kailali from existing small customs offices to full-fledged customs offices.
“Land acquisition for Thadi has been completed while Satti and Suthauli already have enough land to expand the facilities and services,” said Shishir Ghimire, Director of the DoC.
However, these customs offices have already begun to operate as the main customs office following the government’s decisions last year.
Since the size of trade is small so far, they have not experienced hurdles in delivering services. According to Ghimire, the size of trade is gradually increasing in the new main customs.
But the progress at infrastructure construction at these points is sluggish. The DoC said that the government had not set any deadline for the completion of infrastructure construction.
Meanwhile, India is also developing customs facilities across the border as per the decision of the annual bilateral meeting of the Director Generals of the customs departments of both the countries.
The trade activities at the newly upgraded customs offices last fiscal year 2018/19 are not encouraging except Suthauli that tops the five with import of just Rs. 5.9 billion.
Likewise, import through Bhadrapur Customs is Rs. 590 million, Maheshpur Rs. 487 million Thadhi Rs. 79 million and Satti Rs. 50 million. No export happened from these customs points.
However, goods worth Rs. 10 million were exported through Suthauli, and goods worth Rs. 4.2 million in the first three months of the current fiscal 2019/20.
There are 30 main customs offices across the country, including the one at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). Likewise, there are 143 sub-customs offices under the supervision of the main offices.
Similarly, the government is developing facilities at the Korala border point at Nepal-China border.
Ghimire said that China wanted to develop the customs and other needed facilities at Korala as soon as possible. To develop infrastructure, the DoC has received 1000 ropanis of public land from the Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation.
Process to upgrade customs at Hilsa and Kimathanka has also started.