MUMBAI: The Customs Department at Nhava Sheva plans to launch an SMS service informing importers about the arrival of ships carrying their goods at the country’s ports beforehand. “We are working towards a new system wherein if the bill of entry is filed in advance, trader will know in advance when his goods are arriving at the port and take delivery," a senior Customs official said.
The average time taken for a container to move from ports to factories dropped to 100 hours in April from 307 hours as listed in the doing business report of the World Bank for 2016. Also, while the average is 100 hours, 70% of cargo is customs cleared immediately and most of the rest in 48 hours, officials said.
The Customs Department wants to take this a step further. It does not want any holdup of cargo at ports, thus lowering the transaction costs of companies. The department has already introduced single-window clearance for goods based on certain risk parameters. This allows importers to clear goods without payment of duty or any mandatory checks if they do not fall in any of the risk categories.
“We have written to CEOs explaining them how this new programme could bring savings for their companies,” said another customs official at Nhava Sheva. “We have also held interactions with Chief Financial Officers to explain them the benefits.”
Consignments shouldn’t be stuck at ports unless regulatory clearances are needed from any other agency such as plant or animal quarantine. “We are now insisting on clearance of goods from the port,” the official said, adding that ports can’t be used as warehouses.
The Customs Department wants bills of entry filed in advance after the cargo is loaded. Currently, an importer has to file the bill of entry immediately after the cargo’s arrival. A late fee of Rs 5,000 has to be paid if there is a delay beyond three-four days.
Companies have cited difficulties in filing bills of entry in advance saying they sometimes don’t know loading occurs or what goods are in the container. Customs is asking companies to put their systems in order to resolve this.