Special economic zone units and developers will soon be allowed to use e-filing portals—the Indian Customs EDI Systems or ICES, and its interface Indian Customs Electronic Gateway or IceGate—to negotiate transactions with customs authorities, according to CBIC Chairman Vivek Johri.
A blueprint for the module to allow SEZs was in place and a working group had been set up within the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, Johri said, while speaking at the National Export Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry.
The customs department is in talks with the commerce department to carry out user acceptance test for that module, he said.
This follows the announcement made in the Finance Minister’s Union Budget Speech this year to enable ease of doing business for SEZs through customs administration reforms.
Johri elaborated on the measures taken by the department to compress average release time of export cargo.
Average release time refers to the time frame of when a cargo enters and departs the port with customs approval. Currently, the target set by the National Committee on Trade Facilitation for average release time is 24 hours for export cargo on seaside and 12 hours for export cargo on air.
“The average release time for exports cargo has been reduced to half from when we started measuring… but there is a distance from the target which is something we still need to work on,” he said.
The department is working on other measures to compress the time taken, Johri said. It includes the following:
Introducing a web-based system for registration of goods so that foreign exporters will not need to travel to the port to submit documents to customs for initiating the process.
Working on a single-window system for linking regulatory systems and ensuring smoother approval process as needed for exports.
The Chairman also highlighted the need for improving the physical infrastructure at ports to facilitate faster movement of goods as actual custom processes are a small component of the overall time taken at ports.