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BAFRA seizes undeclared imported goods

Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) in Phuentsholing seized more than 1,000 kilograms (kg) of imported frozen fish and chicken nuggets at Rinchending check post recently.

The consignment did not have customs clearance.

BAFRA officer-in-charge, Phuntsho, said their team disposed the frozen item on the same day and imposed a fine of Nu 98,000 to the owner, who is based in Thimphu.

“The fish and chicken were imported from Vietnam,” he said. “We have informed the customs office.”

BAFRA does not allow import of fresh fish without formalin test certificates and calls it a “temporary ban.”

People are, however, trying to transport fresh fish to Thimphu.

In another case, BAFRA had also seized 1,000kg of fresh fish at Chukha check post.

It penalised the Thimphu base entity Nu 300,000 as fine. As the business entity was unable to pay the fine, BAFRA has detained the vehicle in which the fish was being transported.

In a separate incident, two vendors from across the border, who have stalls at the vegetable market, were also fined by BAFRA for replacing Bhutanese eggs with eggs imported from across the border.

“We have given them last warning,” Phuntsho said.

The vendors had imported cheaper red eggs from across the border and sold to Bhutanese customers in the Bhutanese brand name.

“It seems they inflate the invoice figures after talking to our local farmers who sell eggs,” BAFRA officer-in-charge said, adding that they then fill that invoice gap by importing eggs from across the border.

BAFRA office has also explained local farmers about such cases and its consequences and impact to their own produce.

As it is winter, banned chillies from across the border have also started to come into the market illegally. As of now, BAFRA has settled such cases that involve chillies worth Nu 258,000.

“There are more cases yet to get settled,” Phuntsho said.

With the dry season for chilli in Bhutan, Phuntsho said illegal cases would increase. “We are also strictly monitoring.”

It was learnt that BAFRA dispose the seized goods.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

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