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Imported liquors worth Rs 40m wasting away in govt godowns

Imported liquors worth Rs 40m wasting away in govt godowns

Imported liquors worth Rs 40m, stored in a government godown, have expired in the lack of proper management.

Although liquors worth Rs 25m in the godown are fit for consumption, there has been no preparation to auction them off due to a lack of coordination among related agencies. Most of these liquors were imported from countries like France and Scotland without paying VAT and customs duty.

The liquors were purchased by National Trading Ltd—the state-owned trading company that is no longer in existence. The main objective of the company was to sell imported goods at reasonable prices to consumers. National Trading also used to sell goods at the duty-free shop of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) as well as to different diplomatic missions. However, expensive liquors bought in foreign currencies have been languishing in godowns for the past 15 years.

Branded whiskies, rum, vodka, gin and beer worth $563,564 are languishing in its godown in Ramshah Path. These liquors are worth more than Rs 74.95m in current market prices. However, most of them have expired.

The government merged National Trading with Nepal Food Corporation to form Food Management and Trading Company (FMTC) four years ago. However, no initiative was taken for the management of these imported liquors after the merger.

“When the government decided to remove duty-free shops from TIA, National Trading was in the process of purchasing goods worth Rs 320-330m. These goods were being purchased by taking bank loans,” Binod Kapali, one of the security guards deputed at the godown, said.

The godowns contain 103,933 liters of liquors of different brands. Of them, 95,898 liters of liquor have passed their shelf life. The remaining 8,034 liters can still be sold in the market, according to staffers of FMTC.

Six godowns of National Trading, which are now under FMTC, are filled with imported liquor. While investments of tens of millions of rupees have gone in vain, FMTC is also losing rental income from the godown due to its inability to manage the liquors. FMTC has deputed two security guards at the godowns. They are provided a daily wage of Rs 725 each.

Rabi Singh Sainju, former joint secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies, said since there were many disputes with the then National Trading, the issue of what to do with these liquors also remained unsolved. "Regardless of the disputes, the concerned authorities should have already destroyed expired liquors and sold those fit for consumption," Sainju added.

Gajendra Thakur, a joint secretary who was transferred to the ministry recently, said he would work to resolve the matter at the earliest.

The godowns contain 15,009 bottles of whiskies, 8,641 bottles of brandy, and 60,600 units of canned beer. The beer cans were brought by paying $39,409. These liquors have already expired. Similarly, there are 1,327 bottles of champagne, 1,570 bottles of gin, 2,098 bottles of rum, 9,072 cherry liquors, 1,786 bottles of vodka, 18,508 bottles of wine, and 15,632 other liquors. Likewise, 129 packs of olive oil are also languishing in the godown.

Of them, 15,671 bottles of whisky, 8,609 bottles of brandy, 1,570 bottles of gin, 361 liters of rum, and 1,770 bottles of vodka are still fit for consumption. Most of these liquors are from popular brands like Beefeater, Gordon’s, Havana Club, Lamb’s, Negrita, Gautier, and Ballantine’s, among others.

Likewise, 2,119 cartons of cigarettes and tobacco and 129 packs of olive oil also need to be destroyed. Similarly, 3,725 units of nail polish, lipstick, bags, perfume, beauty cream, etc., have also expired. The procurement cost of these cosmetic products was $300,876.

Bim Bahadur Thapa, chief of the Sales and Distribution Department of FMTC, said these products cannot be destroyed immediately due to legal and environmental hurdles. “We are trying to find a solution,” he added.

Thapa said since most of these products were brought without paying customs duty, they will have to pay duty to the government if they are to be sold. “We will have to pay Rs 27.43m as duty for over 8,000 liters of liquor that are fit for consumption,” Thapa said. “Since these liquors are available at much lower rates in the market, it is becoming difficult to get rid of them.”