Kathmandu, January 17
Collection of customs revenue has been hard-hit due to the ongoing blockade organised by the agitating Madhes-based political parties at the border points with India that started from the last week of September. But things have started getting better in recent weeks according to the Department of Customs.
Half-yearly revenue collection of this fiscal has dropped by 34.82 per cent or Rs 33.04 billion as against the target of Rs 94.89 billion, said the DoC, today.
Revenue collected from the customs points used to have 50 per cent weightage in the total tax revenue in previous years. The DoC collects customs tariff, value added tax (VAT), excise and other taxes at the border points.
The DoC was able to collect only Rs 61.85 billion in the review period. However, revenue collection did improve in the last month as compared to previous months as the number of vehicles, laden with daily essentials and industrial raw materials, entering Nepal increased from all the border points except Birgunj.
Birgunj, which is also known as the gateway to Kathmandu, is the major supply line for the country and has remained completely closed since the start of the border blockade. It used to be the major revenue contributor, but at present, the contributions from Bhairahawa, Biratnagar and Nepalgunj have gone up significantly after the flow of vehicles through these border points started to increase. Revenue collection at Krishnanagar and Dhangadi customs offices from where only a limited number of vehicles used to enter earlier has also increased.
At present, supply has normalised from all the checkpoints except Birgunj, as the flow of vehicles entering the country has gone up since mid-December.
Daily revenue collection by the DoC hovers at around Rs 600 million in normal times but revenue collection since the last week has started exceeding average daily collection recorded in normal times, as per Sishir Kumar Dhungana, director general of DoC.
Revenue collected from the customs points during the last month of the review period met around 93 per cent of the total target given by DoC to customs offices. The DoC had given a target of Rs 16.66 billion in Poush (mid-December to mid-January), the last month of the review period, and the collection stood at Rs 15.38 billion.
“It is for the first time that we are close to meeting the monthly target after the border blockade started,” said Surya Sedai, spokesperson for DoC.
DoC has expected revenue collection to meet the target as the flow of vehicles re-routed from Birgunj to other checkpoints has started entering the country. Customs revenue was hit hard as the import of petroleum products dropped significantly by around 60 per cent in the review period, according to DoC.
The DoC has said single day revenue collection had dropped to as low as Rs 200,000 immediately after the border blockade.
A version of this article appears in print on January 18, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.