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.