Single Window Clearance needed
Laying emphasis on Single Window Clearance, DIAL and ACFI organised an awareness programme. SP Sahu, Commissioner (Single Window), Central Board of Excise & Customs, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, was invited to discuss the know-how of the pr
Speed, timely delivery and efficiency—these are the three things that Single Clearance Window can bring to businesses. With this aim, Delhi International Airport limited (DIAL) organised the conference on Single Window Clearance in the Capital. Exposed to the global customs scenario, Chief Guest SP Sahu, Commissioner (Single Window), Central Board of Excise & Customs, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance says, “Single window implementation is primarily for promoting the ease of doing business and it happens in small steps, adding to further improvement as we can see DIAL has achieved with many small steps.”
Taking this further, Sahu adds, “Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and timelines are really important for Custom Clearance Facilitation Committee (CCFC). The purpose of CCSC is not to discuss individual cases but to drive ports and airport into a cycle of continuous input where issues are taken up, leading to continuous improvement in performance. All stakeholders are also requested to use CCFC to achieve efficiency in work.”
The conference was divided into three segments–presentation on Single Window Clearance and how DIAL moved ahead for EDI implementation at the airport by MD Kala, Head - Cargo Operations & IT, DIAL; a brief update on ACFI by KS Kunwar, Director General, ACFI and the presentation by Sahu.
In his address, Sanjiv Edward, Head–Cargo, DIAL stressed , “Single Window Clearance is very important and the industry is committed toward this initiative.”
“The concept is not new, Amsterdam has been working on this for a long time and has completed few phases, but they are still far away from what would be a single window concept. The question remains, ‘Can we as a community come together and achieve this task along with support from government and associations like ACFI, IATA, BAR and EICI and showcase India as a country, which has made this concept a reality,” says Edward.
Kala gave an insight into the introduction of EDI at IGI airport, EDI-phased development at IGIA, impact of reduction in dwell time, export and import process, achievements so far and future initiatives. “IGI was the first airport, which made EDI mandatory and today 100% shipping bills are electronically passed from customs to us. All the documentation, which was happening at the counter earlier, is now getting done electronically,” he informs, “We do not accept cargo if it does not come through EDI.”
“With the normal procedure, there was total chaos at the terminal and with EDI, it is easy for terminal operators as the cargos gets off-loaded within two hours, bought in and send to the bonded area as compared to six to seven hours,” enlightenes Kala.
Kunwar highlights that, “This concept can significantly increase the speed of the movements of goods, improve business efficiency, reduce transaction cost and enhance the overall service performance of a country. In the absence of Single Window system, the air cargo industry needs to seek clearances from each government regulatory authorities in the forms of NOC that too in hard copies and then submit to Customs authorities for final clearance of the import or export shipments. This situation entails delay and finally increases transaction costs in the form of demurrage charges.”
In his presentation Sahu informs that a Project Management Group (PMG) has been created by the government, comprising senior government officials from the licensing agencies and agencies issuing NOCs under Inter Ministerial Group (IMG) responsible for the implementation of this project. The status of the project is: • Functional assessment and requirements being finalised • Some features in development • Consultation with stakeholders and other agencies under progress
The road ahead
CargoTalk spoke to few industry veterans to understand how Single Window Clearance would help. Excerpts:
Cyrus Katgara, Partner, Jeena & Co., says, “It will reduce the dwell time by eliminating manual interface and need to physically move documents from one place to another and waiting in queue for routine clearances for items involving check by drug controller and WCCO officers. In particular, it will reduce dwell time by one day in case of drug controller related shipments and one to two days in case of WCCO related shipments.”
“Multiple documents to be prepared manually and submitted to multiple agencies sequentially leading to additional manpower costs and delay in clearances, resulting in higher dwell time and also increased costs in terms of demurrage. Air Cargo industry is highly time-sensitive, so every hour saved in dwell time goes to support businesses,” he adds. When asked about the hindrances currently freight forwarders are facing, G Balaraju, Managing Director, Sindhu Cargo highlighted, “Currently samples have to be forwarded in sealed covers to offices or labs of various agencies or to visit port and airports to draw sample with prior appointment. Co-ordination and movement of samples and documents are major setbacks. Also, many times, it is difficult to get status of sample tests.”
“We can save 10 per cent of cost and time will get reduced to 25 per cent with the single window concept,” says R Jayakumar, Director, Jayem Logistics. “A single window is an ideal state to bring all stakeholders to a single IT platform, be it banks, carriers, freight forwarders ports, Chamber of Commerce, customs, insurance. All these stakeholders work as separate blocks.”
Echoing similar views, Ravinder Katyal, Director, UTi says, “We can save 50 per cent against the current cost. Once it gets put into practice, the Indian air cargo industry will be at par with the rest of the emerging markets or developed economies. Time and speed is the
mantra of single window concept.”
Expressing his thoughts on the current scenario of air cargo industry, Vijay Kumar, Chief Operating Officer, Express Industry Council of India, says, “One of the major delays in clearance of international shipments is absence of a Single Window Clearance. When shipments are imported or exported, various regulatory clearances are required. Customs can clear only when the NOCs are obtained from various regulatory agencies like Drug Controller, Wildlife Crime Control. This leads to inordinate delay. In many cases, these regulatory bodies are situated far away from port of clearances and due to such delays, the transaction cost for such shipments also goes up substantially. The trade has been clamouring for such a system to be developed.”
Commenting on the need of this concept to be implemented in the country, Sunil Arora, Managing Director, Delta Air Freight, says, “This concept will bring ease in working. Today we need to concentrate more on how our work can become fast, better and accurate because our cost with reference to manpower, IT and following procedures is significant. Single window is the dire necessity
at this moment; if not implemented very soon, we will lose more time. This concept will create a real world environment.”
“Single Window Clearance should be the top priority if we are inviting big companies in our country. They don’t want such kind of hindrances where clearance takes 72 or 60 hours, it has to be quick and fast and this is only possible if everything is on a single window. And, the least human interference happens, the best it is, the system should interact and talk and clear bills,” adds Arora.
“The air cargo logistics industry partners are almost ready to participate in the implementation of Indian customs Single Window system when commissioned because each and every custom broker, freight forwarder, custodian, cargo terminal operator and airlines are already filing customs papers (SB, BE, IGM.EGM) online in the Customs EDI System except the few smaller agencies, who are using Customs service centers. The industry is depending upon the Single Window system developed by the government to be linked with their system,” stressed Kunwar.
According to Katgara, “The industry is fully geared to use Single Window system. Once the new EDI formats are announced, industry would be able to align its software and hardware infrastructure within one month.”
Jaykumar says, “Beyond IT infrastructure, I do not see any other issue. There are few IT vendors, who have already implemented the systems abroad, so fast tracking execution in our country is the only issue.”
Complementing Jaykumar’s views, Kumar says, “As and when single window is rolled out the air cargo and express industry is more than ready to ensure implementation at the earliest.
In fact, once clearances improve due to single window, there would be substantial improvement in space infrastructure at express and cargo terminals due to faster movement of such shipments.”
“If initiatives fall in line and there is willingness to come forward with the required technical and governmental support, I think within a year’s time, this should become reality, connecting all ports and airports because majority of goods move through sea,” opines Arora.
(L-R) KS Kunwar, Director General, ACFI, SP Sahu, Commissioner (Single Window), Central Board of Excise & Customs, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Pradeep Panicker, President, ACFI, Sanjiv Edward, Head - Cargo, DIAL
SP Sahu Commissioner (Single Window), CBEC, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance
G Balaraju Managing Director Sindhu Cargo
KS Kunwar Director General ACFI
R Jayakumar Director Jayem Logistics
Vijay Kumar Chief Operating Officer Express Industry Council of India
Ravinder Katyal Director UTi
MD Kala Head - Cargo Operations & IT DIAL
Sanjiv Edward Head – Cargo DIAL
Cyrus Katgara Partner Jeena & Co.
Sunil Arora Managing Director Delta Air Freight