KATHMANDU, Nov 3: The country’s second integrated check post (ICP) in Biratnagar is set to come into full operation from the next month, as the infrastructure in the Nepali side is at the final stage of construction, according to Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board.
The ICP, which is an important facility for trade logistics, is a shared structure at the bordering point of two countries. It offers a common platform for traders to get customs clearance for the traded goods from one place. Apart from this, the ICP also offers services such as immigration, banking, quarantine, warehouse, litigation, and parking yard under single roof, facilitating both the importers and exporters to minimize their trading costs.
The ICP in Biratnagar-Jogbani is the second ICP along the Nepal-India border, which is being constructed with an estimated budget of Rs 2.1 billion provided by the Indian government. Nepal’s first ICP at Birgunj-Raxaul border is in operation since April 7, 2018.
Navaraj Dhakal, executive director of the board, said the infrastructure of Biratnagar-Jogbani ICP in the Nepali side is almost completed and will be ready for full-fledged operation from December. “The government has put ICP construction in topmost priority as it helps ease the movement of traded goods cross the border,” said Dhakal. Nepal and India had reached an agreement in 2005 to build ICPs at border points of Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj. India had completed the construction of the necessary infrastructure for the ICP in Jogbani in 2016.
Under the bilateral agreement, Nepal needs to just provide the required land for the ICPs and the remaining cost of ICP construction will be borne by the government of India. However, delay in land acquisition process and selection of the contractor had hindered the construction in the Nepali side, which had pushed the operation date of ICP multiple times previously.
Dhakal said Nepal has provided 110 bighas of land to construct the necessary infrastructure for the ICP. According to him, the Nepali side has been pressing the Indian government to bring online the ICP at the earliest. “The momentum took a leap only after the last intergovernmental committee meeting that was held last year in Kathmandu.”
Nepal has been facing an ever-expanding trade deficit for the past several years. According to the Department of Customs, Nepal’s trade deficit in the first three months of the current fiscal year stood at Rs 307.78 billion. The worsening trade balance has often been attributed to poor trade facilitation measures.
According to the World Bank’s global Logistics Performance Index (LPI) Report 2018, Nepal ranked 114th out of 167 countries when it comes to the logistics management related to trade. The multilateral lending organization has also pointed out the need for operationalizing the ICPs despite the progress that Nepal has made in customs procedures, tracking system, and timeliness of delivery.