Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Nov 03, 2004
Export council seeks permanent solution to congestion at JN port
Kolkata , Nov. 2
CONSEQUENT upon certain important steps being taken by the authorities concerned to decongest the JNPT, some 10,000 import containers are now learnt to have been moved out making space for movement of long waiting export cargo, mainly consisting of engineering goods such as auto components.
The Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) has already set a target of $12 billion for 2004-05.
Welcoming the development, the EEPC Chairman, Mr Rakesh Shah, told Business Line here that this should be viewed only as a one-time solution to a problem now threatening to choke Indian exports of engineering goods from this important western port.
He clarified that the council was actually seeking a permanent solution to the problem, a kind of roadmap, so that such congestions may not resurface say after six months or so.
Commenting on the gravity of the situation, he said exporters had actually started receiving cancellation of owing to non-supply of the contracts.
Mr Shah said that at an informal meeting called by the Commerce Ministry recently to discuss the problems of congestion at the JNPT and NSICT (Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal), it was decided that at the CFS, a higher amount of Rs 5,000 per day would be charged instead of the Rs 500, from the 16th day onwards, and in regard to the containers awaiting clearance, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) would issue a notice to such importers on the 25th day to clear the containers by the 30th day, failing which such containers will be auctioned.
He said it has been decided that one gate at the port would be earmarked for all the CFS-stuffed containers and would stay open for 24 hours.
Highlighting the importance of the JNPT and Nhava Sheva ports, Mr Shah said exporters of auto components and other engineering items from just the two centres of Mumbai and Delhi accounted for nearly 65 per cent of India's total exports of engineering goods ($10 billion in 2003-04).
Asked if these exporters can be lured away from these two congested ports to other ports such as Kandla, Mundra or Visakhapatnam, he said it would be possible only if costs are comparable.
And for this, the Government first needs to have a dialogue with the shipping companies, he added.
Nearly 50 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings of the country through exports now come from the western region.
Mr Shah said the special task force set up for this purpose had met recently in Mumbai to take stock of the situation, and its recommendations are likely to usher in the preliminaries of a roadmap for decongestion at major ports.
He informed that the first meeting of the task force, under the chairmanship of the Chairman of the JNPT, last month had called for several urgent steps to decongest the ports.
He said with regard to port shipments, it has been decided that exporters would be allowed to take delivery of the import consignments and need not pay import duty for the balance consignment if received by another ship, as the total import duty is already paid on arrival of the first part of the consignment.
However, if the consignment is imported in the same ship, where part of the consignment is not traceable, the importer has to pay duty additionally for the consignment traced later at the time of clearance, and claim reimbursement as per current practice.
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