Published On: January 5, 2023 12:31 PM NPT By: Mithilesh Yadav
JANAKPURDHAM, Jan 4: Rajbiraj Customs Office in Tilathi is the official checkpoint in Saptari district. Interestingly, the inner roads of Belhi, Barsain, Chinnamasta, Gobargadha, Topa are much busier than the main road along the major customs point.
Units of the Armed Police Force and Nepal Police are deployed at the checkpoint to manage the open border and avoid smuggling of goods. But compared to those who pay customs duty to import goods, the number of people avoiding customs duty is much higher in all eight districts of Madhes Province.
When the security forces receive a tip-off regarding smuggling, they set up checkpoints at certain places but the smugglers evade the checkpoints and take a detour.
The smugglers change their tactics and modus operandi by keeping a close watch on the activities of the security personnel.
The smuggled goods not only include daily essentials and goods brought from overseas but also include banned drugs and contrabands.
Hundreds of people smuggle such goods right under the noses of the customs officials each day from Thadi, Madar and Bariyapati customs in Siraha district. They allegedly place the smuggled goods inside their helmets and enter Nepal on motorcycles without being checked by the customs officials.
The smugglers even force unsuspecting people to carry bags full of goods from across the border to Thadi. They persuade passengers using buses or tempo rickshaws to carry their goods across the border.
The smugglers choose the entry point after carefully evaluating the areas patrolled by the security personnel.
Only a few people pay customs duty while bringing in a range of goods from daily essentials to cosmetics and undergarments from across the border.
The smuggling which is going on unabated has caused massive losses to the state revenue.
According to the Madhes Province Police Office, Janakpurdham, the security forces deployed in the border areas have confiscated illegally imported goods worth more than Rs 146.7 million in the last three months. The confiscated goods include vehicles. Clothes, fancy dresses, and cosmetics alone account for goods worth Rs 66 million confiscated by the security forces.
The goods confiscated by the security forces are the ones brought without collusion with customs officials or by the smugglers who do not pay monthly allowance to the corrupt officials.
According to the Rajbiraj Customs Office, Tilathi, their revenue collection target for the last fiscal year was Rs 67.52 million. The customs office collected revenue worth Rs 41.7 million which was 61.85 percent of the target. The target for the current fiscal year is Rs 59.9 million. So far, the customs office has collected revenue worth Rs 7.8 million with a little more than six months remaining.
Similarly, the Thadi Customs Office met 30 percent of its revenue collection target last year. The customs office had set a target of collecting Rs 132.8 million in revenue but was able to collect only Rs 38.3 million. The current target is Rs 114.3 million out of which the office has managed to collect only Rs 19.9 million so far this year, which is around 17 percent of the target.
Similarly, Madar Customs Office had set a target of collecting Rs 235.9 million in revenue but managed only Rs 112.1 million or 48 percent of the target last year. In the current fiscal year, the customs office has set a target of collecting Rs 199.5 million but has collected only Rs 19.8 million which is 10 percent of the revenue collection target.
Siraha’s CDO Lal Babu Kabadi, who is also the chairman of the revenue leakage committee, admitted that the revenue collection has declined.
“I have called a committee meeting to find out the reasons for the decline in revenue collection. I am not aware about the smuggling in collusion with customs officials but I will find out where there is revenue leakage,” he said.
In the current fiscal year, Dhanusha district has met 50 percent of its revenue collection target while that of Mahottari is 84 percent, Sarlahi 48 percent, Rautahat 23 percent, Bara and Parsa 63 percent, according to the respective customs offices.
All the areas in Saptari have border outposts of APF in addition to checkposts of Nepal Police. As the importers have to pay taxes through the bank if they opt for the legal process of importing goods, they rather choose to collude with the security and customs officials to avoid all the hassles, according to sources. This has helped smuggling of goods flourish in the region. Experts believe that the decline in revenue collection is a result of importers bringing in goods with the help of smugglers who collude with the customs and security officials.
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