EDITORIAL: Viable option

As Nepal is mostly dependent on imports the imports from Vizag would assist in reducing cost and inflation which is very high at present

The Indian port of Visakhapatnam (Vizag) has been opened for Nepal for a year but there seems to be a poor response from traders who import and export goods. This being the case, Vizag is being promoted as a favored port and the government would do the necessary to import government cargo via the Vizag port. Thus, the traders would be encouraged to follow suit and use this port because imports and exports from this port is believed to be more predictable than that from the Kolkata port. However, it is said that the traders are reluctant to shift to the Vizag port and the government had to do something about this. At present, the government imports items like chemical fertilizers, machinery, information technology related equipment, aircraft equipment and arms and ammunition from Kolkata port. From now on the government would be importing them from the Vizag port as it is very feasible. The government had made this move in order to encourage the traders who so far have shown unwillingness to shift to the Vizag port despite the benefits that would accrue.

The Kolkata port cannot be expanded further and it can handle only feeder vessels. On the other hand, the Vizag port can handle mother vessels which means that the cost of freight would be lower if this port was used. Due to the inefficiency of the Kolkata port the unforeseen costs are higher forcing the Nepali traders to pay more for detention and demurrage charges. Also the containers are not cleared timely from the Kolkata port.  The cost of trade from Kolkata port is high while importing raw materials and, therefore, less competitive. Were the traders to use the Vizag port they would not face the present hassles and to pay the unforeseen costs. The other advantage is that there would be a predictability in the delivery of cargo from the Vizag port. The cost of transport from the Vizag port by train is similar to ferrying cargo from the Kolkota port.

There are also doubts raised by the government that the customs house agents and forwarders are trying to convey the message that trade from the Vizag port is not possible. It would be a benefit for the traders if they used the available option to bring in cargo via the Vizag port. This would help lessen the time and costs of foreign trade for the Nepali traders. As Nepal is mostly dependent on imports this would assist in reducing inflation which is very high at present. The supply side hassles would also be reduced in the process. It would also benefit the consumers because they are the ones who are paying more than they should be which is very unfair on the part of the traders. Therefore, the traders should join the government by using the Vizag port too. It should be realized that there is a general misconception that trade by the Vizag port is not possible. To this effect the Ministry of Commerce has held deliberations with the Nepal Transit and Warehousing Co. Ltd, the government’s customs house agents, as it plans to move ahead by importing government cargo from the Vizag port.

Prepare for winter

The cold spell is in full swing in the mountainous districts from where a large number of people have descended to lower and warmer areas to save their lives and cattle. The cold wave in the Tarai region will also severely affect the poor, elderly, disabled and children. The entire Tarai region is covered with a thick blanket of fog for several days during the first and second week of January making general life and movement very difficult. As many as 66 people had died of cold wave across the country in 2068 B.S. However, the deaths related to cold wave have declined as the government has taken precautionary measures to protect the poor from the cold wave.

Considering the cold weather the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has issued a circular to all district coordination committees and local level units to make arrangements for blankets, warm clothes, firewood and health services to the poor and needy. Local level authorities can provide at least warm clothes, firewood and medical services to the needy who do not have shelters. The local level units should also raise awareness about the health risk such as hypothermia, common cold and pneumonia during the winter season.