MoICE officials urge India to deploy additional customs staff at Datgari

The regional director of Industry, Commerce and Employment Ministry’s regional office in Gelephu expressed the need for additional Indian customs officials at the Datgari customs office. This was raised yesterday while meeting the Consul General of the Consulate General of India office in Phuntshogling. The Consul General who is on a familiarisation tour to Sarpang met with members of the Bhutan India Friendship Association, and Bhutanese officials from trade, customs, Regional Agriculture Marketing Cooperative, Gelephu Thromde and officiating Sarpang Dzongda.

During the meeting, the Regional Director presented the current scenario of import and export of goods from the India-Bhutan border gate at Datgari to Consul General G. Ajith Kumar.

According to the regional director, deploying additional customs officials at the gate would ensure faster service delivery for truckers importing and exporting goods between the two countries.

As of today, truckers, both incoming and departing Bhutan, have to wait long hours at customs office for customs clearance as there are only two Indian customs officials at the Datgari customs office.

The officials said due to lack of manpower, delay in obtaining customs clearance is subsequently delaying the delivery of Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants or POL products from Gelephu to six districts of Dagana, Zhemgang, Tsirang, Trongsa, Bumthang and Sarpang.

The officials added that the need for adequate human resource at the customs office gate will be felt even more in the coming days as the volume of import of raw materials, food and POL products increases over the years for the upcoming Gelephu Mindfulness City, Special Administrative Region.

In addition, he also requested for a proper parking space at the Indian customs office premises as truckers currently face difficulty in finding a parking area.

“They reached at the gate in the morning and get the customs clearance only in the afternoon. It is taking so long for the custom clearance. Gelephu is the place from where POL products are distributed to six districts. When custom service is delayed, it is very difficult for the distributor from Gelephu to maintain the chain of continuous supply,” said Sonam Bumtap, Regional Director of Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment’s regional office in Sarpang.

The Indian Consul General assured support within his capacity to foster the Bhutan-India relationship.

G. Ajith Kumar, the Consul General of the Consulate General Office of India in Phuentshogling said, “This is a special assignment forwarded by Dasho. We feel that this relationship is based on mutual trust and brotherly (bond). We feel that Bhutan and India are brothers for all practical purposes and that makes the assignment special for all of us working in Bhutan.”

Besides, the meeting saw discussions on measures for export of areca nut from Gelephu. The ministry has already initiated works to include areca nut in the export list via Gelephu. However, it is expected to take some time to come through.

Currently, areca nut export is permitted only from Phuentshogling via Jaigaon and via Samtse border gate.

Karma Wangdi, Sarpang

Edited by Phub Gyem

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