May 4: It has already been four months since the Department of Customs launched online payment system mandatory at the Birgunj Dry Port to make the customs clearance process transparent and easy. However, the cost of imports is increasing as the new system is not up to date.
Last Saturday, 24 containers of Birgunj-based trader Suresh Rungata were stopped at the port customs. The server of the department was not working properly since Thursday. He paid the revenue when the server was running for a short time but the containers were denied customs clearance as the server did not work all day on Saturday.
“Even the goods whose revenue was paid could not be cleared,” Rungata shared with New Business Age
Most of the goods arriving via train from India and third countries enter Nepal through this customs point. Madhav Rajpal, vice-president of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the importers are suffering due to the problems in the system as well as bank payment and Nepal Clearing House Limited.
Revenue payments at this port is made completely online. The Department Customs started online payment at the dry port as a trial and implemented it at other customs from January 15. However, in other customs, there are options to pay with cheque.
According to the service seekers, there are frequent problems with the server and system of the Department of Customs. Rajpal said that the inspection pass and revenue payment get halted due to system failure.
According to Santosh Kumar Neupane, information officer at the dry port, the problem appears due to procedural shortcomings of the dry port customs’ system and other online service providers.
Neupane said, “The server and the system of the department are outdated, so online payments are sometimes blocked. Discussions are being held to set up a proxy server at the customs and update it to the main server of the department.”
Officials of the dry port customs said that the online payment cannot be done on a timely manner due to procedural hassles of the clearing house and the bank. They say that the arrangement of the clearing house to get step-wise approval for the payment of an amount more than Rs 200,000 has caused the delay.
The importers said that due to the limitations of the service providers’ system, the payment is hampered and the customs clearance is also delayed. They added that even if the customs officials pass the inspection till 6 pm, the online payment made after 5 pm is deposited in the account of the dry port customs the clearing house only in the next working day.
Earlier, customs clearance was possible throughout 365 days in a year till 6 pm. Trader Rungata complained that the cost of import is increasing as service providers do not improve their systems and processes. The vice-president of the association Rajpal said that the system should be improved immediately to ease the customs clearance.