Open Border and Revenue Leakage
Buddhi Narayan Shrestha
Generally,Nepal and India has an open border system. However, regulated system has been adopted on air route and Nepalganj-Rupaidiya border crossing point since October 1, 2000 and November 1, 2005 respectively.
There may be a question, whether the open border system should be continued! To answer this question we have to visualize the infiltration of unwanted elements across the porous international border. Secondly, one has to draw attention on the activities of the smugglers through the porous border. Illegal transportation of machinery parts, motor vehicles, chemical fertilizer, clothes and materials manufactured in India and third country to Nepal is increasing day by day. As a result, there is a revenue loss of Rs. 15 Crore per month for the last four months. According to a source published recently, the amount of customs duty has been decreased tremendously as it was not controlled the illegal transaction on the frontier of both nations.
The smugglers use the porous border crossing-points, avoiding the main customs and sub-customs offices, where the customs officials do not pay their attention. For example, chemical fertilizer has been transported openly from the various crossing points including Samalbung point of Ilam district. At the same time, chewing nut, Panparag, tobacco mixed Khaini and other high customs revenue rating materials and merchandise have been illegally imported from east and west undermined crossing points of Birganj area.
Similarly, various raw materials of Nepal including timber, herb, medicinal plants, animal hides, stone, sand, gravel, vegetable ghee, beer, wine, ready made noodles and even kerosene, petrol, diesel which are cheaper in Nepal have been exported to India illegally by smugglers. It has negatively affected the earning of customs revenue of the government of Nepal. Recently, there is a scandal of Rakta Chandan ((red sandalwood), illegally transported from India and to be exported to Tibetan Autonomous Region of China.
All these are due to mismanagement of international border between
Nepal and India. Various self-interested persons and agencies have been involved to make the border unmanaged. If the border with
India is well managed and regulated, their illegal motive will not be fulfilled. So they want to keep the border somehow unmanageable. Self-interested group has spread their approach from the police post of frontier area to customs patrolling team, customs personnel and local administration. As a matter of fact the border crossing management system has not been regularized due to inefficient local administration. Smugglers have been encourage due to paying less attention by the customs officials and police personnel. Local news has been published time and often that illegal export and import of goods, material and machinery have been increased with the protection of policemen through the porous points of the border. Customs officials have their own role and vested interest in this aspect. Besides, high ranking politicians and dignitaries have been involved directly or indirectly in some cases to channelize and support the smugglers and their activities. One burning example could be cited as published in the local newspaper. Even the personal secretary of Home Minister and a worker of congress veteran lady leader were also involved to smuggle the Rakta Chandan, transporting from Indian open border to Khasa customs point. So the open border system is as much culprit as the helpers to the smugglers.
To obstruct all these illegal activities and to restrict the leakage of government revenue, the border between Nepal and India must be regularized, controlled and systematized.
For this, both the governments should implement an alternative measures on the border to increase the customs revenue of Nepal. One of the alternative measures may be the introduction of ID Card System to the passengers who cross the international border. Second alternative may be fencing the frontier with 180 exit and entry points. Third may be deployment of border security force on the frontier. Recently, Nepal government has decided to deploy the Armed Police Force on the border to control the illegal activities and trans-border crime. But it has to be very cautious that Nepali and Indian border security forces (Sashastra Sena Bal) may not clash each other in some minor issues. If the security forces clash, the common folk of both the frontiers may be hurt physically, mentally and socially, So the government should think the consequences of deployment of forces on both the sides of the No-man’s Land before some unwanted incident takes place.
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