Monday, December 30, 2013

Software glitch affects export of seafood & agri. cargo from Chennai


The introduction of Risk Management System (RMS) for exports coupled with technical glitches in Customs’ software ICEGATE, which is the platform for online filing of shipping bills and other necessary documents, has badly affected the export of agricultural commodities from Chennai region.

According to EXIM players engaged in exporting agricultural products like onion, groundnut, chillies, coir products and seafood items, they are facing serious trouble of failing to meet consignment obligations as the newly introduced system opts for multiple verifications of products packed inside containers meant for export.

Speaking to Sagar Sandesh, one of the exporters seeking anonymity, said: “We are not opposed to the new system, which has been touted as a best method to reduce time consumed for processing export containers. However, for the past few days, more than 80 per cent of factory-sealed containers, that too done in the watchful eyes of senior Customs or Central Excise officials, were being asked by the modified software for re-inspection.”

If we open a seafood-laden refrigerated container (sealed after proper check-up in Customs-notified warehousing facility) based on the command of modified software at the inspection point after the implementation of RMS, it would definitely affect the quality of seafood loaded and there are high chances that the consignment may be rejected from our consignees due to poor quality,” said another exporter.

Though Customs officials maintain that the primary objective of this system is to strike an optimal balance between facilitation and enforcement and to promote a culture of compliance, it is intended to improve the management of the resources of the department to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness in meeting stakeholder expectations and to bring the Customs processes on par with the best international practices.

While the authorities had admitted that given the exponential growth in trade volumes over the years, the traditional approach of verifying every export document and examining every container will simply not work, the new system would help them to randomly pick consignments for re-inspection.

However, technical glitch in the modified software puts up a message that about 80 per cent of consignments, stuffed and sealed in private warehouses, should be opened for re-inspection.

With the glitch in recently modified Customs software delaying consignments, a group of Custom House Agents (CHA) met the top officials and held detailed discussion to solve the crisis at the earliest.

Though the Customs officials are reluctant to accept the ground reality put forth by agricultural commodity exporters of non-possibility of re-inspecting such goods initially, they later agreed to clear those containers till a permanent solution arrived is arrived at.

 What is Risk Management System?

Shipping Bills filed electronically into ICES through the Service Centre or the ICEGATE will be processed by RMS. The RMS will process the data through a series of steps/ corridors and produce an electronic output for the ICES.

This output from RMS will determine the flow of the shipping bill in ICES, i.e. whether the shipping bill will be taken up for Customs control (verification of self-assessment or examination or both) or to be given “Let Export Order” directly after payment of export duty (if any) without any verification of self-assessment or examination.

The RMS will also provide instructions for Appraising Officer/ Superintendent, Examining Officer/ Inspector or the Let Export Order (LEO) Officer, wherever necessary. The decisions communicated by the RMS on the need for verification of self-assessment and/ or examination and the appraising and examination instructions communicated by the RMS have to be followed by the field formations.

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