M. Ajit Kumar
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
Dated: 22nd June, 2020
In it’s continuing progress towards a paperless, contactless and faceless office environment, CBIC has, on the third consecutive Monday, taken yet another step in this direction.It has today rolled out the electronic PDF-based final eLE0 (electronic Let Expert Order), copy of Shipping Bill and eGatepass for the benefit of the Export community. These copies will be digitally signed and QR code enabled, which will replace the need for paper copy printouts and physical submissions and will help the EXIM community to conduct their business seamlessly, in a paperless and faceless environment. Credit goes to the officers and staff of the Customs wing of the Board and the ICES team of the Systems Directorate under the guidance of ADG Anupam Prakash, for this Welcome initiative.
Despite the pandemic, our international supply chain eco-system has by and large remained unhindered, thanks to the seafaring community who have helped maintain continuous movement of essential goods by sea. In a twist of fate, some seafarers were stuck on board their ships for quite Some time due to safety protocols and could not be ferried to their destinations. To provide succour to them and to unite them with their loved ones, the seafarers who had been stranded in various parts of Europe and at Miami in the US were brought home in the cruise ship ‘Celebrity Infinity’. Goa Customs has done a remarkable job clearing 1,449 seafarers who arrived at Mormugao Harbour on 18.06.2020. The Officers facilitated. the signing-off of officers and crew at Marmagoa Port over a period of three days while taking all necessary precautions in view of the spread of Covid 19. This signing-off was the biggest such operation to take place at one go in the country. The seafarers disembarked from the cruise ship `Celebrity Infinity’ in batches of 100 and had their swab samples taken for testing on the docks, with heavy rain and wind causing delays, before those who were found fit were allowed to travel inland. My appreciation to Ms. Krishna Misra. chief Commissioner, and her team of officers led by Shri Sunil K. Sahjlan Assistant Commissioner, Prev. & R&I for rising up to the occasion and ensuring smooth and hassle-free clearance.
eRelease of the Time Release Study (TRS) done by Mumbai Customs Zone III was another highlight of the week that has passed by. The efforts of Ms. Rama Mathew, Chief Commissioner, Mr. Vijay Singh Chauhan, Commissioner, and their team of officers in conducting the TRS as per WCO standards deserves appreciation. This study is invaluable in testing the efficiency and effectiveness of our clearance processes, identifying bottle necks and in planning for an efficient supply chain eco-systerm. This allows business establishments to plan movement of cargo at a reduced cost and time. The reduction in time achieved at the ACC is no doubt a welcome achievement during these testing times. The presence of a large number of stake holders during the release function underscores its importance and the expectations of trade and industry. I urge that the bottlenecks identified in the present TRS be smoothened expeditiously in consultation with the stake holders. Further, we need to take some bold steps to drastically cut down process delays if we are to achieve the Trade Facilitation Action Plan time-lines in all our Customs Zones. I am confident that these formations have the requisite leadership and dedicated staff to make that leap. I request all stake holders to also study the report critically and cooperate in reducing lime and cost factors helping to make our merchandise more competitive in the international market.
Two anti-smuggling cases are worthy of mention this week. The Postal intelligence. Unit of Air Customs Chennai unearthed a novel modus of narcotics smuggling while effecting a seizure of 400 “Ecstacy” pills ( Methylenedioxy-Methemphetamine pills) valued at Rs.12 Lakh under the NDPS Act, 1985, The accused involved in the smuggling, had used a maze of fake identities by booking the drag through a banned site on the pretext of sending toys to fake addresses and making payments through ‘bitcoin’ crypto-currency. Further, to evade detection, the accused chose to stay 550 kms away in a neighbouring state. The meticulous planning by Shri Rajan Chaudhary, Commissioner (Airport), and his team of officers to uncover the racket and book the smugglers require to be appreciated.
Further, DRI, Kolkata Zonal Unit had worked out specific information that 3 cages of 22 live exotic birds were booked as cargo in Air India flight AI-775 (Kolkata-Bangalore). These included 1 Hyacinth Macaw, 1 Pesquet’s Parrot (Dracula Parrot), 11 Hahn’s Macaws and 9 Severe Macaws. The consignment was intercepted along with two persons involved at NSCBI Airport, Kolkata, The exercise was executed as a joint operation with WCCB and with active assistance of Customs, Kolkata Airport. The exotic birds and animals smuggled from Bangladesh through Bongaon. border were seized under the Customs Act handed over to the Zoological Garden, Alipore, for safekeeping, Further investigation is in progress.
On the GST side an analysis of e-way bill data reveals encouraging trend about revival of our economy. The value of supplies of goods, which had reduced to about 10% of Pre-lockdown period of March 2020 in Lockdown 1.0, has now reached more than 80% of pre-lockdown level during first fortnight of June 2020. While during the initial phases of lockdown, mix or goods supplied mainly consisted of essential commodities like food products, medicines and medical equipment, hygiene products, fertilizers and packing materials, the current data shows that the supply of other commodities like cement, computers, mobiles, coal, iron & steel products, motor vehicles & parts thereof, etc, has also picked up significantly and is on the way to reach the pre-lockdown level. The feedback provided by various CGST formations has also helped is to understand the operational levels of industries all over India, While data pertains only to units under the centre’s jurisdiction, it is interesting to note that operation of industrial units, affected during initial phases of lockdown due to various restrictions has also revived substantially. I am optimistic that we would soon be approaching full normalization of industrial activity.We should hence ensure that our work from home initiative is fully geared to meet the challenges of a rapidly ramping up economy and that our service levels match the expectations of trade and industry.
I am also glad to inform that Shri Satyajit Mohanty, Commissioner has received a ‘Certificate of Accreditation’ in the area of ‘Rules of Origin’ from the Secretary General, WCO. Hearty Congratulation to him.
Hats off to all you officers and staff who have been extremely responsive to the needs of the country and have facilitated benign made, while also interdicting illegal activity. While appreciating the good work in the week gone by, I wish everyone a safe and healthy week ahead.
(M. Ajit Kumar)
All Officers and Stuff of Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs