Kathmandu, January 10
The amount of silver Nepal imported in the first four months of current fiscal is nearly double the amount the country brought in during the same period last year. Traders have blamed rampant cross-border smuggling of the precious metal as the demand increases every year by just around 25 per cent.
Federation of Nepal Gold and Silver Dealers’ Association’s former President Tej Ratna Shakya says the excessive rise in silver import is very unnatural and it is a hint that the smuggling is rampant in the country.
Whereas the import of gold has increased just by 25 per cent, the 100 per cent increment in the import of silver is suspicious, Shakya says, adding, “The demand has not increased, you see. It is a solid ground to prove the prevalence of smuggling.”
The Trade and Export Promotion Centre under the Ministry of Commerce says the country imported silver worth Rs 4.57 billion from mid-July to mid-November 2017.
This amount is 99.3 per cent more than that of the last year as in the same period of 2016, the amount of import was worth Rs 2.29 billion.
Revenue officials and experts say Nepal is being used as a transit for smuggling of gold and silver to India.
Further, smugglers who have been bringing in various goods to Nepal have been using silver to pay to Indian traders as Indian currency is scarce in the country following Indian government’s demonetisation move in November 2016.
Traders say almost half of total silver imported by Nepal is sent to India this way.
But, regulatory agencies are unaware of these illegal transactions.
Nepal Rastra Bank Executive Director Bhishma Raj Dhungana says silver is not a restricted commodity, therefore drawing a conclusion without analysing figures of past few years will be quite hasty.