Modi government to change customs duty architecture to boost trade and eodb

  • After rolling out the most comprehensive indirect tax reform – the goods and services tax – the Narendra Modi-led NDA government is set to unleash the next generation of changes to the customs duty architecture to speed up India’s trade and improve the ease of doing business.
  • The proposed changes seek to do away with face-to-face contact with tax officials, automate the release of goods and ensure e-traceability of shipments, measures that can substantially reduce corruption and allow faster movement of merchandise.
  • “We are going to venture into a new territory called faceless assessment… We could start a pilot in a month’s time,” Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs chairman S Ramesh told ET in an exclusive interview.
  • Ramesh, who took over as chairman in Jun 18, said the idea is to work towards getting into the top 50 ranking of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business. In the ‘trading across borders’ category, India leapt to 80th rank from 146th.
  • Elaborating on the proposed ‘faceless’ assessment, Ramesh said the board will soon initiate discussions with the trade and examine if any legal or statutory changes would be required.
  • He said the ideal situation would be that goods landing in Nhava Sheva (Mumbai) can be assessed in Chennai and shipments in one category, say motorcars, can be assessed at one location, allowing development of specialisation and expertise.
  • Once this is rolled out, an importer in New Delhi would be able to get cargo assessed in Chennai without needing to physically get in touch with the local customs.
  • The faceless interface would also be used for automated release of cargo, which will allow an importer or an agent to receive an email or an SMS alert that the goods are ready for collection, without having to interact with any customs officer at the port.
  • This would be done for low-risk and trusted traders and low-risk commodities. Ramesh said that as part of the national trade facilitation programme, the cabinet secretary has written to ports to streamline their infrastructure for smooth and speedier cargo movement. Port IT systems are being integrated with the customs portal.

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