Siraha, November 8:

Smuggling of tax-evaded goods into main bazaars of Siraha district, including Lahan, Golbazaar, Mirchaiya and Siraha Bazaar, is rampant due to the absence of chhoti (auxiliary) customs points. Locals said police also are unable to control the racket.

The Siraha District Customs Office (DCO) said it was unable to keep vigil at the entry and exit points other than the main customs point. As five chhoti customs points at Bariyapurpatti, Sikajoti, Aurahi, Naurangi and Fanjpatti of Siraha, which were displaced due to the conflict, have not been re-established, the import of tax-evaded goods in the district is on the rise, the customs office said.

A non-gazetted official at the DCO, Tika Pokhrel, said the smuggling is on the rise because revenue patrol teams have not been mobilised in border areas. He added that only Rs 2.76 million was collected in revenue at the Siraha customs point within the first four months of this fiscal year, though the target was to collect at least Rs 20 million. While displaced police posts in border areas have been re-established by the District Police Office Siraha, no initiative has been taken to re-establish chhoti customs points.

As evening falls, goods like sugar, cloth and cosmetics are brought to the markets in trucks and tractors, locals said. The sale of tax-evaded goods is going on unabated in big commercial centres as the eastern unit office of the Revenue Investigation Department at Itahari and Internal Revenue Office of Lahan do not monitor the situation, they said.

Records kept at the Siraha DCO show that revenue for goods like zinc plates and cement have been paid, but there is no record of tax paid for smaller items. “If only heavy goods are brought in from the Siraha customs point, from where do the businessmen bring smaller items?” a source at the customs office said.