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SCOTLAND : Fruit sellers anger over time taken to get mangoes through customs

It is taking longer than 24 hours for mangoes, which have a short shelf-life, to clear Customs at Glasgow airport

Victoria Brenan, Reporter / Friday 10 July 2015 / News

A RIPE old row has erupted over the time taken for mangoes to get through customs at Glasgow airport with fruit sellers being ‘forced’ over the border.

Importers buying thousands of cases of the tropical treats say they are having to wait more than 24 hours for their crates to get customs clearance and are heading to Manchester instead.

They say time is crucial when it comes to the mangoes getting through, as they must get into shops within 48 hours of landing.

Anjam Salim, who runs KRK cash and carry in the west end, imports mangoes every summer and sells them across Scotland.

He was collecting a five-ton shipment of around 2000 boxes from Manchester airport yesterday, where he said turnaround time was three to four hours.

He said: “The mangoes have to be in the shops within 48 hours so time is literally money.

“We live in Scotland, we do our business in Scotland, but we are paying the taxes to England. We need a more efficient system.”

Chaudhry Azam, of Azam International, has been importing mangoes for around 12 years during the six-week mango season from mid-June. The importers pay around 45p a box in taxes.

He said the problem with them taking longer than the 24-hour custom target time started last year.

He said: “I’ve had six shipments for far this year and they have all taken longer than 24 hours.

“I import around 1500 to 1700 cases.. A lot of people would love to do business through Glasgow airport but they can’t because the system is very poor.”

Their case has been taken up by Glasgow SNP MSP Hamzala Malik, who raised a motion in the Scottish Parliament saying Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) “needs to look into the problems as a matter of urgency.”

Mr Malik said tax revenue was being lost to the Scottish economy.

He said: “Why should it take so long here? Is it a resource issue? This would not encourage people to import to Scotland.

“The mangoes are fragile fruit. Once they start to lose freshness, they decay quite quickly.”

Commenting on behalf of Border Force, which oversees customs at Glasgow Airport, a spokesman for the Home Office said they could not comment on individual cases.

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