The Finance and Media Ministry has been asked in writing by three companies that had been involved in an areca-nut re-exportation racket to mediate and ensure provisions to resume the re-exportation in accordance with the law. The letter claims the decision by the ministerial economic management committee to suspend the re-exportation has caused a loss of a major foreign revenue source.
It says the income from areca nut-re-exportation in 2013 was Rs. 2,065 million (9,783 tons), Rs. 8,312 m (29,384 tons) in 2014, Rs. 8,312 m (29,513 tons) in 2015 and Rs. 4,949 m (13,468 tons) in 2016.
The three companies say in their letter to the minister that carried out from 2008 on a small scale, it became a major business in 2011, but it has now collapsed due to the ministerial economic management committee decision.
Areca-nut re-exportation under the TIEP project for value-addition of agricultural crops and spices and re-exportation later on became a racket with government ministers’ support. Alleging that areca-nut, imported from Indonesia, was being re-exported to India without value-addition, Indian authorities warned that failure to curb that would result in a loss of re-exportation opportunities under SAPTA. After ‘Sathhanda’ revealed that, the re-exportation was suspended by the ministerial economic management committee as per its decision no. 13/017/2016/35.
According to that decision, areca-nut importation illegally was stopped as well as forfeiting of illegally-imported areca-nut, imposition of fines and not releasing the areca-nut was carried out. The re-exportation will be allowed only if that is done after value-addition. The racket came to a halt following the orders issued by the then finance ministry secretary to the Customs director.
Now, these companies are asking the finance minister to allow them re-exportation of value-added areca-nut.
When we investigated, finance ministry sources said the temporary suspension was made due to a legal business being made into a racket. The ministry will not make a quick response due to the diplomatic level criticisms it drew. The ministry is prepared to reconsider the matter after getting conformation that this could be done in accordance with the law.