Kathmandu, December 19
Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bullets with Nepali number plates have remained stuck at Birgunj Customs Point since almost three weeks after the Birgunj Customs Office refused to grant them entry citing unclear government policy on tax subsidy for import of LPG bullets.
Though the government has announced two-thirds customs duty waiver on import of gas bullets, Birgunj Customs Office has refused to allow Nepali gas bullets to enter Nepal citing import of chassis and bullet tanks fall under two different customs categories, while the government has announced tax-waiver facility for only one import category. Because of this, Birgunj Customs Office has said that the tax-waiver facility announced by the government can be given to chassis of LPG bullet only and not to the bullet tank, which has to be imported under a different category.
“Gas bottlers first imported chassis of the vehicles, for which we gave them the tax-waiver as announced by the government. After getting the vehicles registered at the transport office, they then took the chassis to India to install the LPG bullet. And now they are demanding tax-waiver facility for the bullet tank as well, which is not allowed by law,” Semanta Pokharel, chief at Birgunj Customs Office, said, adding that though the government had announced two-thirds customs tax-waiver to LPG bullets through the budget speech and the demand of gas bottlers is logical, the Financial Act does not allow tax waiver on bullet tanks.
As per Pokharel, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) should announce tax-waiver on import of bullet tanks as well or bottlers would have to pay the full customs tax before these bullets can be released.
According to the gas bottlers, currently two such Nepali gas bullets are stuck at Birgunj Customs Office, while more than 300 Nepali bullets that have been manufactured are sitting idle in different places of India.
“Because of such policy contradictions and lack of coordination between the government agencies, the LPG bullet procurement process is getting delayed. Delay in procuring LPG bullets can affect domestic market of cooking gas as Indian bullets will not supply gas to Nepal from November of next year,”
Shiva Ghimire, president of Nepal LP Gas Industry Association, said addressing a press meet here today.
Ghimire urged the government to facilitate gas companies to bring LPG bullets as soon as possible since the government has already authorised the gas bottlers to import LPG bullets with the provision of customs duty waiver.
A version of this article appears in print on December 20, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.