24x7 Cus­toms Clear­ance: For­warders cau­tious to step up

For­warders cau­tious to step up Ac­cord­ing to the de­ci­sion of the Govern­ment of In­dia from July 1, CBEC started Cus­toms Clear­ance of all ex­port goods on a 24x7 ba­sis from four ma­jor air cargo com­plexes/air­ports: Delhi, Mum­bai, Ben­galuru and Chen­nai. Trends

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ac­cord­ingly the new fa­cil­i­ties (24x7 Cus­toms clear­ance), all ex­ports in­clud­ing those made un­der ex­port in­cen­tives scheme as well as duty draw­back scheme will now be pos­si­ble on 24x7 ba­sis. The ex­ten­sion of 24x7 cus­toms clear­ance fa­cil­ity for im­ports and ex­ports has been un­der con­sid­er­a­tion of Govern­ment for some time. The present ex­pan­sion of the 24x7 Cus­toms clear­ance fa­cil­ity to all ex­ports from iden­ti­fied Cus­toms sta­tions ad­dresses the re­quire­ment of ex­porters who ex­port un­der ex­port in­cen­tive schemes.

Com­ment­ing on the feed­back so far Sushant Nigam, Gen­eral Man­ager (Cargo), Com­mer­cial, Delhi In­ter­na­tional Air­port in­formed that the air cargo trade func­tion­ing at the IGI Air­port has lauded the ini­tia­tives from CBEC for ex­tend­ing Cus­toms Clear­ance cov­er­age to all types of Ex­port Cargo on 24x7 ba­sis w.e.f July 1, 2013. “All the stake­hold­ers are fully sup­port­ing the GoI ini­tia­tive and com­mit­ted to make it a great suc­cess,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Nigam, the daily night aver­age of gen­eral ex­port cargo (ex­clud­ing meat and other per­ish­ables) ten­dered at the IGI Air­port Cargo Ter­mi­nals for Cus­toms clear­ance and up­lift­ment, has phe­nom­e­nally in­creased. “The ser­vice providers at the air­port have made ar­range­ments to fa­cil­i­tate the clear­ance dur­ing the odd hours too.

New user agen­cies of such fa­cil­i­ties are in­creas­ing day-by-day,” he added. In his opin­ion, this has en­abled the In­dian trade to com­pete well with their coun­ter­parts in other coun­tries. “The en­tire in­dus­try is hop­ing for its op­ti­mum util­i­sa­tion by the users and equally op­ti­mum level of ser­vices from the reg­u­la­tory and fa­cil­i­tat­ing agen­cies,” Nigam added.

Ac­cord­ing to Manoj Singh, Vice Pres­i­dent, Cargo, Mum­bai In­ter­na­tional Air­port (MIAL), ex­ten­sion of 24/7 Cus­toms clear­ance for all ex­port goods is a pos­i­tive move by cus­toms board to boost coun­try’s ex­ports and im­prove air cargo sup­ply chain ef­fi­ciency. Non-avail­abil­ity of this fa­cil­ity has been a ma­jor con­straint in air ex­port sup­ply chain. This will lead to uni­form util­i­sa­tion of air cargo fa­cil­i­ties through round the clock cargo ac­cep­tance and Cus­toms clear­ance. This will not only im­prove the through­put at the air cargo ter­mi­nals but also im­prove the air­port per­for­mance through re­duc­tion of over­all

In Septem­ber 1, 2012, cus­toms be­gan func­tion­ing on 24x7 ba­sis to clear se­lect ex­port con­sign­ments un­der Free Ship­ping Bills as well as iden­ti­fied im­port con­sign­ments

dwell times. “It is now the col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity of the cus­to­di­ans, air cargo agents, cus­toms house agents and the ex­porters to make op­ti­mum use of the op­por­tu­nity to achieve air cargo sup­ply chain dwell times of global stan­dards. Other reg­u­la­tors should also move in the same di­rec­tion for op­ti­mi­sa­tion of sup­ply chain time­lines,” he said.

Shan­tanu Bhad­kamkar, Chair­man, FFFAI, how­ever main­tained that 24x7 Cus­toms clear­ance is yet to be fully im­ple­mented by Cus­toms. “Be­sides, all the stake­hold­ers need to co­op­er­a­tively keep their of­fices open for longer hours for the full po­ten­tial of 24x7 to be re­alised. The stake­hold­ers in­clude ship­ping lines, air­lines, con­sol­ida­tors, cus­to­di­ans, oc­troi au­thor­i­ties, stamp duty col­lec­tion, banks and many more,” he pointed out.

“It’s still not known if it will in­crease or de­crease the trans­ac­tion costs as op­er­at­ing three shifts will have cost im­pli­ca­tions, par­tic­u­larly as the pro­duc­tiv­ity in shifts other than the main shift is usu­ally low. Keep­ing of­fices open 24x7 is a new ex­pe­ri­ence for al­most all stake­hold­ers. Many just don’t have the means and man­age­ment width to sup­port it,” Bhad­kamkar fur­ther added. In his opin­ion, the rea­son for this de­ci­sion is to mit­i­gate the prob­lems due to in­ad­e­quate in­fra­struc­ture. This, there­fore, can only be a tem­po­rary fix, and it can’t be a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion.

Ashish Mahajan, Di­rec­tor, Per­fect Cargo Movers said that the com­pany is ready to uti­lize the new fa­cil­i­ties from Cus­toms, as and when there is a de­mand from their cus­tomers. How­ever, at present he does not see any re­quire­ment be­cause of the slug­gish mar­ket con­di­tion. “I think most of the freight for­warders are not in a po­si­tion to af­ford to in­crease over­head cost at this junc­ture, by deput­ing ex­tra man­power. He also main­tained that to make the pro­ject a suc­cess Cus­toms depart­ment has to take some ex­tra ef­forts, so that cargo is cleared dur­ing odd hours in real terms.

N Si­va­sub­ra­ma­niam, Di­rec­tor, Air Con­nec­tion, pointed out to the short­age of Cus­toms of­fi­cials. “For ex­am­ple, we have seen in Chen­nai one Cus­toms of­fi­cial has to take care of two CFSs (Con­tainer Freight Sta­tions). On the other hand, there are some of­fi­cials in charge of Cus­toms clear­ance, who do not have de­tailed knowl­edge about Cus­toms clear­ance Rules and Reg­u­la­tions,” he said. Si­va­sub­ra­ma­niam also ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment on the way of func­tion­ing by the fa­cil­i­ta­tors like air­port op­er­a­tors. Cur­rently, the 24x7 Cus­toms clear­ance has not been im­ple­mented at Chen­nai air­port, de­spite the CBEC de­ci­sion.

When con­tacted, Chen­nai air­port sources in­formed that the air­port is all set to im­ple­ment the CBEC de­ci­sion. How­ever, they were await­ing the clear­ance and ar­range­ment from lo­cal cus­toms au­thor­ity. The air­port would be hav­ing the PTFC (Per­ma­nent Trade Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Com­mit­tee) meet­ing to de­cide about the time of im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Sushant Nigam Gen­eral Man­ager (Cargo)

Com­mer­cial Delhi In­ter­na­tional Air­port

N Si­va­sub­ra­ma­niam

Di­rec­tor Air Con­nec­tion

Manoj Singh Vice Pres­i­dent, Cargo Mum­bai In­ter­na­tional Air­port

Shan­tanu Bhad­kamkar Chair­man

FFFAI

Ashish Mahajan

Di­rec­tor Per­fect Cargo Movers

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