‘Pandemic created tech opportunities in customs clearance’

The coronavirus pandemic has forced every sector to embrace technology, and logistics and customs have been no different, as sector players say that it has created more opportunities for technology in customs clearance making the process less cumbersome.

Lancy Barboza, Managing Director, Flomic Group, a freight services company, said that in the past few months the pandemic has created serious disruptions in cross border trade and freight movements, but it has also created fresh opportunities to leverage technology for efficient faceless and paperless operations of the customs.

Welcoming the government’s new initiative,’Turant Customs’, Barboza said that the programme to offer a ‘faceless, contactless and paperless’ service, would lead to speedy clearances, transparency in decision making, ease of doing business and reduction in physical contact.

“Even though there are still occasional glitches, which hinders the smooth clearance, the initiative and the resolve of the government to push ahead with the paperless and faceless process will go a long way in weeding out additional expenses and delays in Custom clearance activity” he said.

Elucidating the ease in clearance, Rajesh Neelakanta, ED & CEO, BVC Logistics said: “In one such practice of Customs clearance process that BVC helped in changing, we created an application for filing of shipment details, for both exports and imports by the exporter/importer from the comfort of their offices, linked to ICEGATE – the Customs portal, thus establishing contactless interface for their shipment’s EXIM process.”

This helped eliminate the physical movement of the customers’ personnel from their offices to the customs station, Neelakanta said.

“We also have introduced shipment details’ remote uploading for freight management and thus helping the EXIM trade to become more efficient and productive. We are working on a couple of more such technological innovations, all aimed at making the EXIM experience of our customers seamless,” he added.

Ambrish Kumar, Founder and Group CEO, 2 Innovate Private Ltd noted that in the past couple of years, the government has been keen on bringing such reforms and they would help the country to enter the top 50 rankings of The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Index.

The ‘Turant Customs’ will augment effortless cross border trade as the shipping bills will be electronically sent to the exporters with a secure QR code, he said, adding that the exporters can manage their bank account and authorised dealer (AD) Code digitally and register at ICEGATE without approaching a Customs Officer.

“The pandemic has affected most of the industries and sectors globally which has led to economic slowdown and recessions. However, it has highlighted the significance of technology for life and business continuity and imbibed the idea of how most of the sectors are interconnected,a Kumar said.

Earlier this month, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) said that it will roll out faceless assessment for all imports across India by October 31.

The pilot programme of faceless assessment was launched in Chennai in August last year and has subsequently been expanded to some other cities.