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Marine exporters resent security checking charges

Our Bureau

KOLKATA, Feb. 6

EXPORTERS of chilled and live marine products here are facing problems due to manual security checking of export consignments by foreign airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Royal Brunei Airlines.

According to the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), the problem arises because exporters are being required to pay charges for the security check, which adds to the cost. They have, therefore, urged the authorities concerned for the repeal of the charges.

The foreign airlines, particularly those offering east-bound services from Kolkata Airport and picking up exports for east-bound destinations, conduct manual security checking of export consignments of live and chilled marine products and levy charges for the checking of all perishable cargoes including live aquarium fish, live crab, fish as well as chilled fish. This is being done at the instance of Air India.

The national carrier provides the equipment and personnel to the foreign airlines for carrying out the check and in turn accepts payments from them. The foreign airlines collect the charges from the exporters and remit them back to Air India.

What the exporters resent most is that at no other airport in the country, the security checking charge is levied on the exports of live marine products.

More importantly, Air India itself does not levy such charge on its flights.

Since the national carrier does not operate any east-bound international flight from Kolkata, the exporters concerned have no other choice but to depend on foreign airlines to ship their consignments directly and within the shortest time.

As a result, the marine product exports, particularly the exports of live and chilled marine products from the eastern region, are being rendered uncompetitive vis-a-vis the exports from other regions.

Meanwhile, the air cargo agents here complain that at Kolkata airport, the Customs facilities are not available during the stipulated period. As per the new rules, the Customs facilities are to be available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on working days and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays and holidays.

However, those working in computers, it is complained, do not always follow the stipulated working hours strictly.

Since the operation has been by-and-large computerised, the non-availability of computer personnel paralyses the work even if other Customs officials are present.

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