Stakeholders seek improvement in customs administration

Kathmandu, January 26

Stakeholders have stressed on the need to improve the country’s customs administration and standardise it as per global standards.

Addressing a programme to mark the 66th International Customs Day in Capital today, they said country’s fragile customs administration has been a major setback for Nepal’s trade and economic growth.

“The problem regarding smuggling of goods and under-invoicing is rampant at customs offices, which has been affecting revenue generation of the government. The government and private sector should jointly strive to improve customs administration in the country, which is crucial to promote doing business in Nepal,” said Minister for Finance Gyanendra Bahadur Karki.

Minister Karki also directed customs offices to maintain transparency and facilitate country’s trade.

On the occasion, Auditor General Tanka Mani Sharma highlighted the need to maintain financial discipline in the country to achieve proper economic growth and development progress.

Finance Secretary Shankar Prasad Adhikari informed that the government has been implementing the Customs Reform and Modernisation Strategies and Action Plan 2017-21 in a bid to standardise customs offices and improve the tax administration in the country.

“Implementation of this plan will help address issues regarding infrastructure deficit at customs and discourage under-invoicing,” said Adhikari.

Similarly, Chief Information Commissioner of National Information Commission Krishna Hari Baskota opined that the government should form a Central Revenue Board to supervise revenue sources and leakages in the country.

Baskota also said that the government should publicise customs clearance price of every good so that customers can determine if the market price of the goods is justified.

Meanwhile, representatives from the private sector said that the cost of doing business in Nepal is increasing following policy and trade hurdles at customs offices.

“In the last one decade, country’s imports have increased by a mammoth 700 per cent while exports have surged by merely 40 per cent. This is because of the difficult business environment in the country, which has been affecting industrial growth and production,” said Hari Bhakta Sharma, president of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries.

Similarly, Shekhar Golchha, senior vice-president of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the government should give high priority to address infrastructure bottlenecks at customs offices and expedite process to operationalise planned Integrated Check Posts at different customs points to

facilitate country’s trade.

President of Nepal Chamber of Commerce Rajesh Kazi Shrestha underscored need to digitise all customs procedures to facilitate country’s trade.