Kathmandu, July 5
The government is mulling over channelising the payment to Customs House Agents (CHAs) at Kolkata port through the banking system to ensure transparency and reliability.
CHAs work for customs clearance at the port, which is also known as customs transit declaration, on behalf of the consignees of Nepal-bound cargoes.
Recently, however, it was brought to the government’s notice that some traders have been making payments through hundi and informal channels to CHAs, according to Ravi Shanker Sainju, joint secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS). “Hence, the government has talked with the Kolkata Port Authority to channelise the payment of CHAs through banking system.”
The government suspects of rampant capital flight as the traders have been resorting to informal channels to pay the CHAs. “Once the payment to CHAs is channelised through the banking channel, the unforeseen costs accrued in the Kolkata port from the nexus of CHAs and Nepali freight forwarders will be controlled, and the efficiency and predictability of delivery of Nepal-bound cargoes will improve,” asserted Sainju.
CHAs also deal with the shipping liners on behalf of consignees of Nepal-bound cargoes. Currently, if the detention and demurrage charges have accrued due to delay in returning shipping line containers, such charges are also being transferred to the CHAs through informal channel, according to Rajan Sharma, trade and transit expert.
“Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) does not recognise detention charges and does not provide exchange facility to pay such charges, which is why traders are compelled to use informal channels,” he said.
According to Bhisma Raj Dhungana, executive director of Foreign Exchange Management Department of the central bank, commercial banks are allowed to provide exchange facility to pay the demurrage charges, which is paid to the port authority. Demurrage is the charge payable to the owner of a chartered ship on failure to load or discharge the ship within the time agreed.
“Demurrage charge is paid to the port authority, which is a government agency that we can trust,” Dhungana said. “But there are chances of traders misutilising the exchange facility in the pretext of paying detention charges to shipping liners and container freight stations, which is why we don’t provide the facility for the detention charges.”
He pointed at the need for an effective mechanism to be put in place before the exchange facility can be extended for detention charges as well.
The government of India had also green-lighted to channelise the CHAs payment through banking system during the intergovernmental committee meeting or commerce secretary-level talks held in Kathmandu in April this year, according to officials.
Written by Nikki Hamal
This news first appeared on https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/chas-payment-to-be-channelised-through-banking-system/ under the title “CHAs’ payment to be channelised through banking system”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.