Friday, September 12, 2014

New diktat from Plant Protection puts exporters, importers in a fix


Port Wings News Bureau:

While the EXIM trade, especially the exporters and importers of agricultural products in the country, are already reeling under number of bureaucratic hurdles placed by the Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage, a latest circular from the directorate notoriously nailed the last nail on the prospects of stakeholders.

In a latest circular dated Aug 28, 2014 and implemented from Sept 2 onwards across the country, the directorate informed all the stakeholders that as per the direction of the Plant Protection Adviser, the exporters/ importers or their Custom House Agents (CHA) to apply/submit the documents for issuance of Import Permit/ Import Release Order / Phytosanitary Certificate one day in advance, before inspection by Plant Quarantine.
“Subsequently, the posting of PQ Inspectors will be done one day prior to inspection,” the circular further added.
According to estimates, about 16,000 containers (TEUs) of agri-products like maize, wheat, rice, groundnuts, chillies, coconut fibre and cocopeat are being exported to different countries through Chennai Port every month valuing into several crores. Likewise, about 6000 TEUs of timbers, wooden logs, different types of pulses, variety of fruit items and perishable goods are being imported via Chennai Port every month.
For exporting or importing such agri-products, PQ department is mandated by the Ministry of Agriculture to give clearances in the form of certificates.


According to CHAs, the latest order would further delay the PQ inspection process, which has been already stretched to few days, instead of hours, now.
Speaking to Port Wings, a regular agri-products exporter from South India, said that the implication of the latest mandatory “one-day in advance application” circular would be far reaching and they would be forced to shell out more foreign exchange in the case of clearing import consignments from CFSs.
“In Chennai, the office of the Plant Quarantine is located on the other side of the city and all the CFSs are located on another corner of city. In such circumstances, getting the PQ officer on spot for inspecting the cargo is a daunting task,” the exporter added.

“Even if the PQ inspector convinced with the samples and wanted to issue the necessary certification, the officer need to return back to his office, located on another extreme corner of the city, for issuing the certificate. Again, the process stretches to days instead of hours,” rued the exporter.


According to traders, setting up of a dedicated PQ office at Chennai Port would reduce the problem to a certain extent.
It may be noted that PQ office was located in Royauram till 1999. Due to various reasons, including the construction of a spacious lab, it was shifted to Meenambakkam, near Chennai Airport.
If the Government of India is really concerned with the growth of export or import of agriculture commodities, they should immediately shift the PQ office from Meenambakkam to Chennai Port, which could be a permanent solution to the whole issue, traders said.


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