In a bid to crack into the top 50 position in Trading Across Borders as part of the World Bank’s ease of doing business, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has introduced machine-based automated clearance of imported goods.
The new initiative is being piloted at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Chennai Port Trust from February 6 whereby the Customs officer will be able to do all compliance verification such as examination of goods even before duties are paid. Once, the importer pays the duty, the Customs system would automatically give the clearance or “Out of Charge” to the imported goods.
The initiative will fasten the Customs processes and would give additional time to the importer who will now be able to pay the duties even while the goods are being verified by the Customs officer.
The initiative will soon be rolled out at all ports across India, including the Inland Container Depots and airports.
Currently, the imported goods are available for examination or clearance to the Customs officer only after the applicable duties are paid by the importer. Time release or dwell time studies conducted by the Customs Department have shown that a major contributor to longer dwell time is the time taken by the importer to pay the duties.
“It was felt that the trade was keeping the amount with them for 48 hours plus and not paying the duty and unless they pay the duty there was no way goods could be examined,” said Baswaraj Nalegave, Commissioner of Customs, Bangalore.
“What is now been done is we are segregating duty payment from examination/verification and clearance of cargo. These can happen independently and no so sooner the duty is paid, the machine automatically releases the cargo. This is as per the Word Trade Organization (WTO) standards,” he said.
“This could possibly reduce the dwell time of cargo from the Customs side by as much as half a day,” he added.
The Customs Department had earlier launched a pilot in Bangalore and Chennai on faceless assessment of cargo, whereby consignments will be assessed by a virtual group irrespective of where the Bill of Entry is filed.
Under this initiative, the assessment of cargo need not be done at the same place where the Bill of Entry is filed.
With this new initiative, the CBIC has taken yet another step towards realizing the Government’s objective of further reducing the dwell time in Customs clearance with the use of IT driven reforms, a government official said.
Nalegave said that the coverage of the ease of doing business is being extended to the Bangalore inland container depot this year. Currently, it is restricted to JNPT and Tughlakabad ICD.