Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Aug 12, 2002
Industry & Economy
Excise and Customs
Kolkata Customs Dept to go online next month
KOLKATA, Aug. 11
THE much-awaited gateway network for customs' online connectivity with its different constituents in as many as 24 stations, will be ready for operations by end September.
Addressing members of the Calcutta Customs House Agents' Association (CCHAA) here, at the open session of their 46th AGM, Mr A.K. Chhabra, Chief Commissioner of Customs and Central Excise, Kolkata, put the CCHAA members on notice that come October, they will have to be prepared to work totally online from their own offices while filing bills of entry and other customs documents.
He said once connectivity was established, there should be very little physical interaction between CHAs and custom house staff, he pointed out.
Explaining the gateway process, he said only a single entry at the main server stationed at Delhi would be required for the information to go through the chain, especially at the port and airport end.
On the computer link-up at Haldia port customs complex, scheduled for completion soon, he said funds were no problem and the department was fully geared to post as many officers as required for full-scale operations.
On the suggestion by CHAs that exports of all traditional items under free shipping bills without claim of any rebates be allowed without observing the standard examination practice at the docks, Mr Chhabra said the issue would have to be tackled jointly by both customs and the CHAs. The CHAs felt that this may give an advantage to the exporting community by way of use of latest packing technology.
Mr Chhabra also welcomed the suggestion by the President of CCHAA, Mr S.R. Dutta, that payment of customs duty in advance before arrival of the ships may be accepted for faster clearance of the goods, especially import of bulk commodities.
Calling for a change in mindset of all concerned, he reminded the CCHAA members that both CHAs and the customs officers will have to work together to service the ultimate client - the exporter.
Mr Dutta, in his opening remarks, said the proposed introduction of new norms for licensing of CHAs would call for training of the agents to help them get familiar with EDI technology for rendering better service to trade. He said in the coming years, the entire work related to import-export was likely to be handled by the CHAs, who must start preparing from now itself for emerging as a full-fledged freight forwarder-service operator, with all facilities and infrastructure back-up to minimise costs.
Pointing out that assessment of duty was gradually getting more and more complicated owing to demands of "various unwarranted'' documents by the officers, he urged the customs department to consider introduction of standard tariff valuation of certain important commodities acceptable to customs authorities at all ports.
On land customs stations, such as Hilli and Mohadipur in Bengal, now growing in stature, he suggested that a single administrative authority be set up for facilitating smooth flow of trade between India and Bangladesh.
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