Cooperation: The Indian government yesterday released the Excise Duty Refund (EDR) for 2014, amounting to Nu 1.943 billion (B). The amount was finalised in May last year.

Indian ambassador Jaideep Sarkar handed over the cheque to finance minister Namgay Dorji at Tashichhodzong.

The EDR for 2014 was an increase of Nu 187 million (M) from the previous year. Bhutan received Nu 1.756B in May last year as EDR for 2013.

Excise duty is an indirect tax levied on the goods and commodities manufactured domestically in India. The Indian government levies it on those goods India exports to Bhutan, and as per the bilateral trade agreement refunds to Bhutan on an annual basis.

The EDR has been released just before the end of the current financial year. The money was projected as a portion of the country’s revenue for the financial year 2015-16.

The finance minister thanked the Indian government for the timely release of the money, which he said forms an important component of revenue. The EDR for 2014 comprised about 8 percent of the total revenue.

India has been releasing the EDR since the financial year 1969-70 based on the Bhutan-India trade relations governed by the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation 1949. The refund is also made based on the Article VIII of the Bilateral Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit 2006 between the two countries.

The Indian ambassador said India not only wishes to continue but also further strengthen the warm relations between the two neighbours. “We recognise that EDR is a part of Bhutan’s regular budget,” he said.

Meanwhile, EDR claims for 2015 have been submitted to the Indian government. The Indian government has agreed to field a team for verification and quantification of the EDR claims for last year.

The team will be in the country from June 19 and 30. The finance minister said the government looks forward to continued support from the Indian government in verifying and finalising the EDR.

MB Subba