BIRGUNJ, Oct 31: Birgunj Customs Office -- the major custom point of the country -- has failed to collect targeted revenue in the first quarter of the current Fiscal Year 2018/19.
By collecting only 68.22% revenue during the period, the office, which includes erstwhile Inaruwa Custom Office and Integrated Check Post (ICP), has fallen short of the target by 31.74%.
The total revenue targeted was Rs 52.98 billion. The office has collected Rs 36.14 billion so far. According to a customs officer, the revenue collection fell as imports failed to meet the target.
"As the import of major commodities like vehicles, various raw materials including metals used in different factories, equipment, and machinery for projects declined in the review period, the impact is seen in revenue," said Manish Kumar Mahato, spokesperson of the office.
But importers have a different view. They say that the office has failed to meet the revenue target due to the behavior of customs officials, adding that both the former offices were exceeding in revenue target before merger.
Importers claim that the revenue is affected as import has gone down due to official hassles at the customs office.
"There are various products for which we are charged higher at Birgunj than at Sunauli custom point of Bhairahawa. The officers here make us pay differently for the same product," an importer of machinery told Republica. “Their behavior is inappropriate, that's why importers don't want to use Birgunj customs point."
Amid declining revenue, there have been cases of illegal imports via Birgunj. Two months ago, a cargo truck with registration number 'OR14X 2196' was cleared from the Birgunj Customs Office, which was later confiscated by the Armed Police Force from Rajat Jyanti Chowk at Birgunj Metropolitan-16. The truck contained 24 rolls of smuggled garments worth Rs 3.5 million, which was not invoiced. The sources claim that clothes were loaded from Muzaffarpur of Bihar, India.
Before this, a vehicle cleared by the customs office to be containing leather products from Dashgajapur was later found to be carrying 12 tons of peppercorns. Likewise, another vehicle which claimed to be carrying chaff was found to be carrying garden peas. There have been a number of similar cases of illegal transportation of goods via the office.