The Jawaharlal Nehru Customs House (JNCH) at Nava Sheva has tried to make the life of exporters easier (Public Notice number 37/2011 dated March 24, 2011) by calling for only a single negative certificate from authorised dealer (AD) or statutory auditor of the exporter regarding shipping bills in respect of which payment is not realised, covering the entire period from January 1, 2004, in the prescribed format along with the AD Code number in lieu of separate six-monthly statements. This is a one-time measure and subsequent negative statements will be accepted for six monthly periods only, as laid down in the circular number 5/2009 dated February 2, 2009, for monitoring whether export proceeds have been realised in cases where the Customs have paid duty drawback immediately after exports.
In another facilitation move (Public notice number 30/2011 dated March 14, 2011), the JNCH has said factory stuffing permission will be granted in case a manufacturer intends to export a variety of goods falling under both Export Promotion Schemes and Free Goods (i.e. goods without any export incentives) stuffed in the same container. The moot point is whether the factory stuffing permission granted already should not also have been made valid for this purpose instead of requiring a fresh permission.
Temporary importation of road vehicles is permitted without duty payment against ‘Carnet de Passage’ issued by approved automobile associations. The procedures in regard to recording the entry of the vehicles and their re-export were not robust enough, with the result the Customs used to raise a number of infructous demands for duty on vehicles even after their re-export. The JNCH has now prescribed fresh procedures (public notice number 31/2011 dated March 16, 2011) to avoid such problems.
The migration of the EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) system to version 1.5 of ICES (Indian Customs EDI System) has caused many interruptions and operational difficulties. In terms of Regulation 5(1) of Handling of Cargo in Customs Area Regulations, 2009, all Customs Cargo Service Providers are required to provide, inter alia, hardware, networking and other equipment etc. As many of the container freight stations (CFS) are still in the process of installing the required hardware and software like obtaining connectivity through MPLS, printers etc, delays in delivery of cargo are taking at quite a few Customs stations. The JNCH says (public notice number 48/2011 dated April 5, 2011) that in all such cases of delay due to non-procurement/non-installation of hardware/software required for the 1.5 version, a certificate will be issued by the Customs on the basis of which the CFS must waive the demurrage and detention charges during implementation of the 1.5 version for an additional period of holding the cargo in the CFS.
The above issues affect not only the importers or exporters who use the Nhava Sheva port but most other exporters and importers. JNCH and even other Customs houses have been issuing such public notices, sometimes imposing restrictions and sometimes facilitating the trade. All such public notices do not pertain to local issues.
As a matter of policy, the issues that affect all the exporters and importers must be addressed by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), so that there is uniformity in implementation throughout the country. The Customs houses must restrict themselves to issue their own public notices only in respect of local issues. CBEC should come out with clear directions in this regard.