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It is now the other way; Customs is chasing the industry

Gone are the days when the industry was chasing the customs and sometimes greasing their palms for quick clearance of their goods. It is now the other way around the customs is keen to clear the port wharfs of cargo and putting pressure on the industry to clear formalities even before the ship arrived in the port.

Ironically the JNPT port saw an interesting spectacle recently of the clients and custom house agents raising a banner of revolt against the new mechanism being implemented by the customs for clearing goods "Wharf to Warehouse" which provided for speedy clearance of goods.

The trade even declined to acknowledge the receipt of the letters the customs sent to them informing them of the new scheme. The customs has no plans to give up and it intends to send SMS informing the importers about the arrival of goods at the Port so that they can clear the goods instantly.

The customs all over the country is working on a system where in the customs house agents filed by the bill of entry in advance before the arrival of the ship. This will help the trader to know when his goods are arriving in the port so that he can take steps for speedy clearance.

It has been more than a year since the customs is rigorously implementing the ease of doing business in both sea and airports dealing with cargo. Consequently the average time taken to move containers from the ports to the factories has dropped to one hundred hours in April this year as against 307 hours when the statistics for the ease of doing busisness was taken by the World Bank last year.

Nearly 70 per cent of cargo at ports is cleared immediately while the rest took two days. The customs intends to cut the red tape further in an effort to reduce the transaction cost of the trade.

The custom house has sent communications to the CEO how they would benefit if they took advantage of the new mechanism and bring about savings. Direct delivery from the port to the factory is encouraged but the percentage of industries using the facility in Chennai is hardly 15 per cent.

In an effort to ensure that the trade did not use the ports as ware houses the customs is insisting on filing of bill of entry after the cargo is loaded in the port. Currently an importer has to file the gill of entry immediately after the arrival of the cargo at the port.

We are used to keeping goods for some time in the port or in container freight stations to enable us raise funds from the banks for clearing the duty. Free period and limited demurrage period will be fully availed before we move in to clear the goods. Customs is trying to demolish that elbow room the trade enjoyed all along said a customs house agent.


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