Transport, logistics woes clog ports and airports, custom clearance allowed

24-hour customs clearance has been allowed for three months, but there is another implementation problem. Non-essential shipments have already blocked ports and airports, agents or brokers not showing up due to the unavailability of logistics and transportation partners.

In many cases, importers do not pay duties due to the temporary closure of the manufacturing facilities. In some cases, duties are paid, but imported products are not removed.

Customs officials say it has become difficult to clear essential items due to the overflow of non-essential items overflowing into warehouses because they are not being picked up. “The crux of the problem is that transportation is only allowed for essential goods. Thus, non-essential goods have clogged the entire system, ”said an officer.

A glance at ICEDASH, the customs service’s interactive and user-friendly visual monitoring dashboard, shows the growing problem in this regard. On this, consignments cleared within 48 hours have flashing displays green, orange for 72 hours and red beyond. This shows that about half of the air cargo takes more than three days to clear. Under normal circumstances, approximately 75% of the freight would be cleared within 72 hours. At the Mumbai and Delhi airports, the number of consignments cleared in less than 48 hours decreased by 22 and 40% respectively. Kolkata experienced a large drop of 66% in the clearance of shipments within 48 hours. As for the sea, 45% of shipments are cleared in less than 48 hours; 50% take more than 72 hours.

In the case of risky shipments, subject to assessment and examination, the broker should be available to explain the goods to the agent. They don’t show up. In many other cases, according to the authorities, the fees that must be paid online are not paid.

On Tuesday, the Minister of Finance, Nirmala Sitharaman, announced 24-hour customs clearance until June 30. According to officials, the announcement of the policy was not in line with reality – the problem is not customs clearance, but the pickup of items after that, due to logistics unavailability. “Although their manpower is limited, customs officers ensure customs clearance on time. The delay is on the side of the importers, their agents or brokers not appearing to explain the goods, due to the unavailability of transport to travel and take deliveries, “said one of them. Another officer claims that a courier company has doubled its cargo of non-essential goods, which are cleared through customs but are lying at the airport due to the unavailability of transportation.

“Cargo ships filled with non-essential items like chocolates and clothes are arriving, which has blocked the whole system. Apparently, they feel that customs are working on the skeletal level and can therefore obtain customs clearance of goods without adequate law enforcement activity, “he said, adding that they pay duties and only keep them there. airport because they can’t transport at this point.

However, many logistics and air cargo carriers have suspended operations. This could be a problem when importing essential items such as Covid-19 test kits and fans. A Mumbai-based customs officer said he received a call from a counterpart in another country to clear a batch of test kit, even though the courier partner refused to take delivery.

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