Illusive relief

For Nepal's forest users

 
By Rajesh Ghimire
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- (Credit: EMKAY)in the wake of strong protests by community forest user groups (cfugs) and conservationists, the Nepal government has reduced the controversial forest product fee -- a tax on the sale of forest products introduced last year -- from 40 per cent to 10 per cent. The catch is that products made from sal (Shovea roburta) and catechu (Acacia catachu), which account for the bulk of the sales, have been kept out of the purview of the tax relief. As a result, forest-dwellers and activists are up in arms again.

"The authorities are enacting a farce. The decision to reduce the tax will not benefit community members because only sal and catechu have market value," asserts Apsara Chapagai, vice-president of the Federation of Community Forest Users, Nepal, an umbrella organisation of cfugs. "We will not accept this decision," she declares, adding that the local people are in an aggressive mood.

Why then was the rollback resorted to? Experts believe this was done to stave off the immense pressure being applied by international donors. On July 18, 2003, the Nepal government had slapped the 40 per cent forest product fee on cfugs (see: 'Tax burden', August 31, 2003).

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