FM asks customs offices to boost competitiveness

FM asks customs offices to boost competitiveness

Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat asked customs officials to strengthen competitiveness of customs points to also boost the revenue mobilisation. Addressing the Customs Management and Valuation Seminar organised here today by Department of Customs, the finance minister said the government won't transfer best performing staffers to other offices. Asking to enhance efforts to not just meet revenue targets but to exceed also he urged the customs officials not to encourage under-invoicing. "Under-invoicing at customs points affect the whole revenue system," Mahat said, adding that the officials must be alert against smuggling of goods through their respective customs points. Customs that contribute around 43 per cent to the revenue is most of the times comes under fire for either under-invoicing or lack of leakage control. The three-day seminar – on the occasion organised to identify the problems of custom management as well as harmonisation of customs valuation at all customs points – also dwelt on various aspects of the customs. Some two dozen customs officials, staff of Post Clearance Audit Office and private sector representatives took part in the seminar that was addressed by the finance secretary Shanta Raj Subedi. "The government is mulling over increasing customs duty on betel nuts to discourage its smuggling to India," he said, also urging the officials to control the trend of under-invoicing at customs points. "When we compared prices of vehicles imported by diplomatic missions with the same model imported by automobile dealers, we found that vehicles are being under-invoiced at the customs points,” he said, adding that automobile dealers have been found sending money to the manufacturers from informal channels, bypassing the system of making payment through Letter of Credit. Chief of Revenue Division under the Finance Ministry Rajan Khanal, on the occasion, asked for better management of border to control illegal cross-border trade. He also suggested the Department of Customs to increase monitoring at the sub-customs offices. There are 30 customs offices and 143 sub-customs offices in the country, according to the ministry. Likewise, director general of Department of Customs Surya Acharya, said the government was preparing to issue identification cards for all importers. “We are planning to allow big importers to use green channel at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA)," he added. There are around 22,000 importers in the country, according to him. "Department of Customs – in coordination with Inland Revenue Department – is tracing imports of traders who have not filed their tax details," Acharya said, adding that a total of 7,000 importing firms have not filed tax details for the past six months. "These firms make up around 25 per cent of the firms registered with VAT." Similarly, director general of Inland Revenue Department Tanka Mani Sharma, on the occasion, said that the trend of registering bogus firms would be decreased with the introduction of importer identification cards.
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