Fradulent activities on the riseInstances of under invoicing, fake bills and customs duty evasion has jumped by leaps and bounds in the last decade, resulting in billions of losses to the exchequer, said traders and customs officials on Friday.
Instances of under invoicing, fake bills and customs duty evasion has jumped by leaps and bounds in the last decade, resulting in billions of losses to the exchequer, said traders and customs officials on Friday.
The rise in such fraudulent activities is due to lack of effective role played by the customs agents and officials, they said. This trend has been affecting genuine traders, while the government has been losing billions in revenue, they said during the
7th annual general meeting of the Federation of Customs Agent Nepal.
Lawanya Kumar Dhakal, officiating director general of the Department of Customs, said a number of customs agents failed to perform their task effectively due to negligence and lack of professionalism. “These licensed agents have been contracting the task of customs clearance to third parties, which has encouraged such malpractices,” Dhakal said.
Enforcing the Asycuda System, the government had started providing licence to customs agents since 1997. The agents’ job is to assist traders during the customs clearing process.
One such malpractice that customs agents conduct on a regular basis is the mixing of cleared consignment with uncleared consignment to evade customs duty. Another is the rampant use of fake bills.
There are 200 licensed customs agents engaged in customs clearance of the traded goods.
Dhakal said “These customs agents have even been found using fake invoice against the bills of Goods and Service Tax and the bill of export enforced recently by the department.”
Two and a half months ago, a customs agent was found using forged customs declaration form to evade customs duty. The customs agent had been evading customs duty by bribing customs officials at the Bhairahawa Customs Office.
The case was handed over to the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority then.
In a recent case, as many as 11 branded shops operating in Durbar Marg have been alleged with under invoicing and charging exorbitant prices. The police have detained eight out of 11 shops operators, who have denied furnishing clarification.
As per the Customs Act 2007, customs agents involved in such misconducts could face cash penalty of Rs25,000-50,000 or a jail term of up to six months or both. In
addition, the Act has also authorised the department to scrap licence of such customs agents.
The customs agents, however, defended the claim.
They said that agents were being penalised for the faulty documents forwarded by the traders. “Many documents of that the importers that we received are incomplete and unclear,” said Jay Prasad Siwakoti, past president of the federation.
The participants underscored the need to train the customs agents on customs harmony code and the documentation process in order to end such practices.