Representational image.

Representational image.

Faceless assessment by Customs delaying imports in Chennai

Importers say the bills of air consignments, which are usually cleared in 48 hours, get delayed by nearly five days; automobile, auto ancillary industries impacted

Representational image.
Representational image.

CHENNAI: The faceless assessment for customs clearances, which was introduced across the country to usher in transparency and cut red tape, is facing teething issues, delaying clearance of import consignments in Chennai. While the industry welcomed the introduction of faceless assessment, where in the bill of entry for imports would be assessed by a faceless-assessment group of customs officials from any port in the country, doubts still remain on its implementation.

Some of the industries which have been severely impacted are automobiles, auto ancillary and chemicals, according to industry sources. Importers said the bill of entry for air consignments, which is usually cleared in 48 hours, is being delayed by nearly five days.

Regional chairman of Federation of Indian Exporters Organisation, Israr Ahmed, told Express that the pilot project, when implemented in Chennai and  Bengaluru, was sailing smoothly after some initial hiccups. However, when extended across the country, the delay was felt.

He said that officials of Customs department with the designation of commissioner or chief commissioner could take steps to clear some urgent consignments manually. Stating that faceless assessment would be beneficial in the longer run, Ahmed hoped the Customs department would be able to resolve the issue soon. Balasubramanian Kandasamy, senior manager, Sanmina SCI India Private Limited said that the bill of entry for consignments that arrived on October 10 was still in the queue and the importers were unaware of whom to contact to speed  up the process.

R N Sekar, secretary, Chennai Customs Brokers Association (CCBA), blamed simultaneous implementation of faceless assessment and the Customs (Administration of  Rules of Origin under Trade Agreements) Rules, 2020 (CAROTAR, 2020) for the current problem. Sekar felt officers at field level were not equipped to deal with the situation.

BC Datta, vice-president of Hyundai, said that initially Hyundai was facing problems due to faceless assessment, but now it has been resolved.  It is learnt that from October 1, around  86 per cent of imported commodities were brought under the purview of faceless assessment and by October 31, the entire imports would be brought under its purview. Meanwhile, CAROTAR,  2020, introduced last month, has brought in stringent requirements for importers enjoying Preferential Tariff Treatment (PTT).  This has also caused delays for importers, said a source.

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