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Vizag customs duty collection surges 64%

Aditya Sabharwal

The Vizag customs office is gleaming with pride and a sense of achievement as their office has achieved significant results for the year ending 2017-18.
Visakhapatnam Customs with a jurisdiction encompassing Visakhapatnam Port, Gangavaram Port and Visakhapatnam International Airport saw its duty collection rise from Rs 4675.27 Cr in 2016-17 to Rs 7682.52 Cr in 2017-18.
This is a whopping 64% surge over the last fiscal.
A series of measures led by the Customs Department such as encouraging DPD & DPE, Encouragement of electronic maintenance of records in warehouses, setting up of Customs Clearance Facilitation Committee (CCFC) among others have played a crucial role in enhancing the ease of doing business factor.
The advent of GST has also helped the customs department register this phenomenal growth rate.
Integrated Goods and Service Tax
‘We at the customs department have paid back Rs 500 crores in IGST (refund) from July of last year till March 2018 said Dr DK Srinivas IRS, Customs Commissioner.
IGST is a combination of central excise and sales tax that is collected by the customs department. The IGST paid by the importer can be later utilized as an input credit. This credit can further be used to pay GST. It therefore acts as an offsetting mechanism.
The government also incentivizes the trade community through duty drawbacks. In situations where taxes are paid by the exporter these are given back either through IGST or through the duty drawback mechanism.
‘We have streamlined all drawback procedures. 90% of exporters get drawback within 7 days of exports’ said the customs commissioner.
Role of a Facilitator
For any errors that spring up during the filing process the department, on a monthly level, organizes a shipping lines meet wherein these lines are given a chance to clear those errors.
Another measure that has significantly enhanced the flow of goods while minimizing the clearance time for exporters is the self-assessment mechanism.
‘Last year self- assessment was around 40% however this year it has gone upto 80%. We have put more trust in our exporters’ said Dr Srinivas.
It was further informed that for time sensitive exports such as marine exports the self-assessment was even higher at 90%.
Authorized Economic Operator
The department has also been recommending Authorized Economic Operator status (AEO) to several companies which ultimately give them preferential treatment in the supply chain mechanism.
As per the department, a total of 8 companies had applied for an AEO status of which 6 have been granted while 2 are said to be in process.
Some of the other measures undertaken by the department include:
The introduction of SWIFT (Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade), under which the importers electronically lodge their Customs clearance documents at a single point only with the Customs.
Benefits of Single Window Scheme include:
Ø  Reduced cost of doing business;
Ø Enhances transparency;
Ø  Integration of regulatory requirements at one common platform reduces duplicity and cost of compliance;
Ø  Optimal utilization of man power;
Adoption of Digital Signature:
To encourage a paperless office ‘Digital Signature’ has been introduced for importers, exporters, airlines, shipping lines etc.
Reduction in mandatory documents:
The department has reduced the number of documents by bringing the mandatory set of documents to just 3 documents for general import/export.
Packing list and commercial invoice have been merged into a single document for Customs purposes. The SDF form which was required to be submitted along with shipping bill (export declaration) is no longer required.  With the introduction of e-Sanchit program, the soft copies of the documents mentioned above can be uploaded in the system from the offices of trade without coming to the Custom House.

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