Thanks to the Grand Unification Party for rehabilitating ‘smuggling’ so it is no longer a bad word. This recognises the fact that Nepal’s entire economic model has historically rested on smuggling gold, mobile phones, palm oil, onions and other precious cargo from across the northern border, and hauling it over the southern border.
The other item of illegal trade is oxen. (Always wondered about that one. Why not ‘oxes’? We never ask: “Where do I put these boxen?”) It is time we loosened border controls so our bullocks can stray into Indian territory without let or hindrance. Smugglers can even use the oxymorons as pack animals and conceal contraband vodka in their false bottoms.
Smuggling contributes more to Nepal’s GDP than remittances and tourism combined. We should restore the trade’s respectability so that the bandicoots of contraband will get the recognition they deserve.
At parties, it is encouraging to see well-known smugglers finally coming out of the closet (so to speak):
“Oh, have you met? He smuggles ball bearings.”
“Pleasure. We smuggle motherboards.”
“Hello. Gold biscuits.”
“I am spiriting spirits into Bihar, cheers!”
At last GONe has mustered the political will to provide smuggling multistakeholder acknowledgement and allow FDI and joint ventures in the sector. The first signs of change are already visible at Kathmandu Airport. The arrival concourse now has Red Channel (Communists with lots to declare), Green Channel (Environmental activists with nothing to declare) and the Back Channel (Pre-paid smugglers with prior arrangement for 33kg consignments of gold).
Ex-Royal Nepal Airlines used to serve Old Grouse in Shangrila Class. Now, moving with the times, there is blended Old Smuggler whiskey on the rocks, but offered only to card-carrying members and captains of industry from the All-Nepal Federation of Smugglers.
Comes great news that NAC has been voted The World’s Most Popular Airline for introducing three classes: Economy Class, Chyangra Class and the new Premium Smuggler Class behind the cockpit. The airline’s widebodies are equipped with specially concealed cargo holds set aside for contraband to expedite customs clearance.
Since smuggling has official legitimacy now, Nepal should now resist joining the World Trade Organisation. The greatest enemy of smuggling is global free trade, which is why the Ministry of Smuggling and Trafficking will accord due priority to this sector by announcing a one-window arrangement and incentive package that includes work visas and 5-year tax holidays for non-Nepali smugglers wanting to set up shop here.
Only by opening up smuggling to international competition will Nepal survive in the global market. Otherwise we may be forever stuck taking oxes across the border.