M. Ajit Kumar, Chairman
Ministry of Finance
Department of Revenue
Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs
North Block, New Delhi-110 001
Tel. No. +91-11-23092849, Fax No. : +91-11-23092890
E-mail : [email protected]
Date: 13th April 2020
The past week has been one where the department has enhanced its credentials as a facilitator. Responding to the Hon’ble Finance Minister’s call for ensuring that all refunds and drawback payments due to the trade should be paid immediately, CBIC has shown that, even during a drastic nation-wide lockdown, by leveraging technology and making provisions for remote access for staff to work from home, heightened levels of trade facilitation can be maintained. ITC refunds in the last 10 days on the GST side has been to the tune of Rs. 2800 crores. This would have injected much needed liquidity to business establishments especially in the MSME sectors. Much more needs to be done quickly. Further, Rs. 29 crores has been waived off as late fee filing charges for Bills of Entry pertaining to cargo coming from Covid-19 affected countries.
Government has exempted basic Customs duty and Health cess with immediate effect on Personal protection equipment (PPE), Covid-19 test kits, ventilators, face-masks and surgical masks. IGST remains payable. While we have designated nodal officers for facilitating quick Customs clearance, there would be instances where grievances are raised electronically on CPGRAMs and on other such platforms. Trade grievances especially those related to Covid-19 issues should be attended to on priority.
Certain Zones like Mumbai Customs Zone III and Hyderabad Customs have conducted meetings with stakeholders by holding video conferencing over the internet, which is very essential so that public meetings go on being held to redress grievances while complying with social distancing norms. Delhi Customs and Mumbai Customs Zone II have given prominence to Covid-19 related measures. They have been providing details of Bill of Entry pendency, out of charge given but delivery not taken etc. on their website which are very useful information for the stakeholders. Other Zones should emulate this best practice.
While compliant trade continue to enjoy facilitation, it is equally important to keep a tab on the errant trade. In this regard, I commend DGGI, Jaipur Zonal Unit for meticulously working out a case of irregular availment of Input Tax Credit (ITC) to the tune of Rs. 43 crores and having made a recovery of Rs. 19 crores.
There is nothing more satisfying than seeing our officers going beyond the call of duty and engaging with our economically weaker brethren in society. What began as a small good-will gesture by a couple of Commissionerates has now gathered momentum. Chennai Customs Zone has made a fine gesture of distributing nutritious food cooked in the Custom House Canteen on a daily basis to the needy on the roads and pavements near Railway / Bus stations and around Custom House. Officers of Ratnagiri Customs Division have pledged an hour of a unique shramdaan every day towards making masks as per designs approved by the Office of the Scientific Advisor to the Government of India. Officers of Kolkata Customs Zone at Jaigaon LCS (on the Indo-Bhutan border) have distributed food items amongst tribal people living in the area adjoining Torsa Tea Garden at Jaigaon. A group of officers at Bangalore have started distributing 1000 food packets per day to construction workers, slum dwellers and migrant workers at 6 counters covering Sahakar Nagar, Hebbal, Bannerghatta Road and Madiwala. The program is to go on at least for ten days. All this work could not have been achieved without active support from not only the officers and staff but also their families. I extend my special thanks to the family members of CBIC officers and staff for showing their resilience and support during these testing times.
I had earlier spoken of the dedication and devotion to duty of our officers and staff manning the Custom barrier. It is sad to note that one of our dedicated staff members Shri Sanjay More, Hawaldar, of Mumbai Customs, fought valiantly but ultimately succumbed to the Covid19 virus. May his soul rest in peace. While expressing our condolences, be assured that the CBIC shall extend all support and assistance to the members of his family.
The month of April this year has a number of festivals which are being celebrated in various parts of the country and by different communities. The vibrancy with which these festivals are observed, albeit within the home this year, convey the message that however difficult the days may look, ultimately good shall prevail.
I wish all our officers, staff and their families a healthy and safe week ahead.
with warm regards
(M. Ajit Kumar)
All Officers and Staff of Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs