Nepal | June 26, 2019

New rules weigh heavy on courier service providers

Imported medical equipment, other essential goods stuck at Tribhuvan International Airport

Pushpa Raj Acharya

Kathmandu, June 22

Large goods and parcels meant for export and import via courier service providers have been stranded at Tribhuvan International Airport customs office for the last few weeks after new rules limiting the weight and value of such packages that can be handled by courier services came into force.

Introduced through Financial Bill 2017-18, the new rule has slapped a ceiling of 70 kg per parcel on import goods and valued up to $5,000 for export goods for courier services. Earlier, there was no restriction related to weight or rate for courier service providers. A gazette notice published in 2008 had allowed courier service providers to export and import goods costing above $5,000 after acquiring permission from the Department of Commerce.

Now caught in a jam, courier service providers have been seeking facilitation from the Department of Customs for clearance of goods that have been stuck at TIA.

The International Air Express Association of Nepal — the association of international courier company’s agencies in Nepal — has termed the provision of the bill ‘impractical’. “People opt for courier for prompt and credible service, but a sudden change in rules like this affects not only our delivery schedule but also our credibility,” said one office bearer of IAEAN, requesting anonymity.

Normally service providers like hospitals and airlines choose air courier service for early delivery of goods. “Hospitals often seek our service for delivery of medical equipment, which usually exceed 70 kg,” said the official, adding the new rules meant service providers that depended on courier would also be affected by the government decision.

Goods imported for diplomatic missions have also been stranded at TIA customs after the rules came into effect around three weeks ago, as per courier service providers.

The Financial Bill, enforced after it was presented in the Parliament on May 29, also bars courier service providers from importing gold and silver jewellery, precious stones, goods made from animal hide, plants and their parts.

Courier service operators have also been barred from exporting goods on which duty is levied and those produced by industries that utilise bonded warehouse facility. “Courier companies have to submit the consolidated manifest of the export and import to the customs prior to the beginning of clearance process,” the Financial Bill states.

Meanwhile, the DoC seems reluctant to help courier service operators. “The Financial Bill has brought this provision to segregate courier service providers and air cargo service operators,” said Kul Raj Gyawali, spokesperson for the DoC. He explained that the decision to slap the weight and rate restriction for courier service operators through budget 2017-18 was ‘based on our finding that many courier companies were working as cargo service providers’.

Stating that other countries in the South Asia region, like India and Sri Lanka, have also slapped weight and rate restriction for courier companies, Gyawali said courier companies had to be aware of the rules prevalent in the country while taking orders for export and import.

A version of this article appears in print on June 23, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

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