Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Customs Department warns fake documents holders

The Department of Customs has warned that it may put around 67 per cent of the goods under the red customs clearance channel due to an increasing number of traders producing fake details on imported goods.
"Many importers are still producing fake documents," director general of the department Toyam Raya. "They have been manipulating the certificate of origin, under invoicing, declaring one product and importing another and issuing fake harmonised system code issued from foreign companies,” he said adding that the illicit activities have not yet stopped. "So we are forced to carry out tight scrutiny of the imported goods.
The imported goods typically pass through either one of the three customs clearance channels –red, green and yellow – in Nepal. Under the red channel, importers need to fulfill a lengthy documentation process. The customs authorities will perform an examination of the import documents as well as a physical examination of the goods.
Likewise, in the yellow channel, a thorough examination of the import documents is performed while in the green channel, the goods get automatic customs clearance.
"We have also planned to increase the access of importers through the green channel,” he said, speaking at an interaction organised by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) in the Capital today. If importers come up with genuine documents, it will reduce their hassles and save time too, he added.
On an average, around 25 per cent of the imported goods pass through the green channel. In the system, the customs clear the goods based on the declaration made by the importers and customs agents.
According to the department, some 44 per cent of the imported goods come through the green channel at Birgunj Customs, the country's key trade gateway from where 45 per cent of the country’s import is made. Likewise, out of 17,164 declarations during the mid-November to mid-December period, only 47 per cent of them were scrutinised strictly, the department revealed, claiming that the customs clearance process has been eased after it enforced the HS Code, EXIM Code and customs reference price.
"Some 85 per cent of the imported goods receive customs clearance in a single day," Raya said, adding that the department has planned to clear 75 per cent to 80 per cent of the imported goods through green and yellow channel by next year to make the clearance process faster, and easier.
Though he claimed that the enforcement of the customs reference price has helped rein in cases of under invoicing, the mechanism has failed to provide a respite for consumers as the importers are still charging exorbitant prices for their products, mainly due to absence of government mechanism to look after the anomalies.
Traders – speaking at the interaction – however, complained about the department charging high fees for EXIM Code and imposing the same rate of customs duty on import of raw materials as well as the finished goods. "The same rate of customs duty on import of raw materials as well as the finished goods have made the country more import-based economy rather than helping the economy industrialisation," they said, adding that the government policy is making the country more import-led economy.
"In addition, absence of experts at the customs point has led to delays in clearance of raw materials that could be damaged if they are not stored properly,” the business people said.

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