Consul General Office suggests higher level talks with India
KATHMANDU, Jan 30: The Consul General of Nepal in Kolkata has suggested the government to hold higher level talks with India to address problems in customs clearance of Nepal-bound third country cargoes at Kolkata Port.
“As the efforts to end the dispute is not paying dividend, our consul general in Kolkata has suggested us to hold high level talks with India to resolve the problem at the earliest,” a highly placed source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) told Republica on Tuesday.
The Nepalese Consulate General Office in Kolkata has intensified talks with senior Indian officials available in Kolkata. Similarly, it is also continuing talks with shipping companies to persuade them extend the grace period for detention charge for the delay in clearing the containers from customs.
Chandra Ghimire, Nepalese Consul General to Kolkata, on Tuesday met B D Das, Chief Commissioner of Kolkata Customs, seeking the cooperation of the customs office to end the dispute. “I drew attention of the chief commissioner toward problems in customs clearance despite the Indian assurance to clear the dispute a week ago,” said Ghimire.
Ghimire told Republica that he has also requested Nepalese Embassy in New Delhi to hold talks with senior Indian officials to resolve the issue. “Besides, we have also requested concerned shipping companies to extend grace period for detention charge to 20 days from 10 days,” he added.
Kolkata Port Authority (KPA) has already agreed to extend the grace period for demurrage charge for containers stuck in the port. If KPA and shipping companies slap detention charge on more than 1,300 containers, Nepalese traders will have to pay at least Rs 5 million per day as detention charge.
Shipping companies are levying US$ 40 to $150 per day per container as detention charge. Around 15 shipping companies are involved in transporting Nepal´s third country imports.
Clearance of Nepal bound third-country imports has been disrupted at Kolkata port for the past two weeks due to problems in customs checking following arrest of some staff members of Kolkata customs during recent raid by Central Investigation Bureau (CBI) of India.
Ghimire said customs clearance process at the port is moving ahead at a slow pace. He, however, said Indian officials have assured him that they would resolve the problem at the earliest. “Indian customs officials have assured us that all pending works at the customs will be completed within a week,” said Ghimire.
According to him, more than 1,300 containers are still stuck at the port.
Rajan Sharma, president of Nepal Freight Forwarders´ Association (NFFA), said containers stuck at the port are carrying products like wool, drugs, solar panels, batteries, tires and electronic goods, among others.
“Many entrepreneurs have told us that their industrial operation would be badly affected if problem at Kolkata port is not resolved at the earliest,” said Sharma.
According to a trader, CBI raided Kolkata customs following dispute that originated from unfair competition among Nepali customs clearing agents.