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
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
Director Air Connection
Manoj Singh Vice President, Cargo Mumbai International Airport
Shantanu Bhadkamkar Chairman
Director Perfect Cargo Movers