The government has clarified that the relief materials will not attract any customs and tax.
After a hue and cry from the development partners and locals that the customs are holding the relief materials due to confusion on customs and tax, the Finance Ministry has today re-confirmed that the cabinet meeting on Sunday – the next day after the devastating earthquake hit the country – had decided not to charge any customs and tax on import of relief materials.
The local and international agencies blamed the bureaucracy at Kathmandu airport and Indo-Nepal border customs was holding up vital relief supplies for survivors of the earthquake.
UN Resident Representative Jamie McGoldrick said the government must loosen customs restrictions to deal with the increasing flow of relief material and avoid bottlenecks. “Material was piling up at the Kathmandu airport instead of being ferried out to victims,” McGoldrick said, adding that they should not be using peacetime customs methodology.
However, due to some foreign countries are seen involved in illegal activites taking advantage of natural disaster, the Home Ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal said all goods coming in from overseas had to be inspected.
Likewise, issuing a note to the customs, the Finance Ministry today, exempted tarpaulins and tents from import taxes.
Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat also appealed today international donors to send tents, tarpaulins and basic food supplies as some of the items received were of no use. “We have received things like tuna fish and mayonnaise,” he said in a press meet asking what good are those things for the time of disaster. “We need grains, salt and sugar at the time of crisis.”
The government officials have said efforts to step up the pace of delivery of relief material to remote areas were also frustrated by a shortage of supply trucks and drivers, many of whom had returned to their villages to help their families.
According to the UN, some 600,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged. Likewise, some eight million, of the total population of 28 million, were affected, with at least two million needing tents, water, food and medicines over the next three months. “The worry now is how to prevent the outbreak of disease,” the UN said, adding that hospitals are overflowing, water is scarce, bodies are still buried under the rubble and people are still sleeping in the open.

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