Customs and Border Protection announces a hiring surge of 2,000
May, 02nd 2014
The meeting between customs chiefs of Nepal and India ended late Tuesday night, with the India side agreeing to keep a crucial customs point at Raxaul open for 12 hours a day and recruit an assistant commissioner at Panitanki customs office.
The two-day meet aimed at further streamlining customs administration of Nepal and India to facilitate foreign trade of the two neighbouring countries was led by Surya Prasad Acharya, director general of the Department of Customs, on behalf of Nepal, and Shobha L Chary, member (excise duty and customs), the Ministry of Finance, on behalf of India.
“One of the biggest achievements of the meeting was confirmation given by India to keep customs point at Raxaul open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm throughout the week to facilitate movement of cargoes to and from Nepal via Birgunj,” Deputy Director General of the Department of Customs, Toyam Raya said
Although India has been asserting that it allows cargoes to move into Nepali territory via Birgunj from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm throughout the week, Nepali side has been claiming that the timing applies only to movement of people and customs clearance works continue from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.
“We hope the debate would come to an end now as the Indian side has agreed to make necessary arrangements so that customs clearance works begin at 8:00 am and continue till 8:00 pm,” Raya added. Both sides also agreed to give wide publicity to the matter so that goods entering and exiting the country are not stranded at the Indian customs point.
Nepali traders have long been asking India to prolong customs clearance hours at Raxaul, as almost 50 per cent of the goods that are imported by the country enter through this customs point.
“We are happy that India has agreed to make changes to the timing. This arrangement would offer flexibility to Nepali importers and exporters, and reduce congestion at the border point, which delays movement of goods,” said Akhil Chapagain, former president of the Nepal Foreign Trade Association.
Another major agreement reached during yesterday’s meeting was on recruitment of an assistant commissioner at Panitanki customs point in India.
As per the Indian law, consignments of goods worth IRs 500,000 or more cannot enter Nepal from India without the presence of an assistant commissioner, according to Raya.
Although India has currently deputed such an official at Panitanki, it is said the officer generally works from Silguri, located 40 km from Panitanki.
“India has now agreed to recruit such an official at Panitanki for at least three days a week,” Raya said. “India has also agreed to give us prior information on days the official would be present at Panitanki.”
Despite flexibility shown by India to make necessary adjustments to enhance trade between the two neighbouring countries, Nepali traders have termed these outcomes as ‘not-so-encouraging’, citing ‘agreement could not be reached on crucial issues like reducing demurrage charges’.
The Kolkata port, where most of the goods destined for Nepal arrive, usually slaps fine if Nepali traders fail to clear goods within 14 days of arrival at the port. “The port does not care whether the delay was made by protesting Indian labourers. They just impose fines,” Chapagain said. “As a result, Nepali traders are losing tens of millions of rupees every year.”
Raya, however, assured that India agreed to take necessary initiatives to address the problem during the meeting.
India also sidestepped the issue of setting up quarantine facilities and food testing laboratories at Mechi-Panitanki, Nepalgunj-Nepalgunj Road, Krishna Nagar-Badhni and Kailali-Gaurifanta citing such issues are dealt by bodies other than customs department and setting up such facilities takes time. - See more at: