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Simple customs procedures face awareness hurdle The Financial Express, Chennai, August 13, 2009

The awareness about ATA Carnet (admission temporary global customs document)—an international convention that simplifies customs procedures at different customs stations to facilitate temporary importation of goods among 66 world signatory countries including India—remains poor, says Ficci. According to Ficci specialist in ATA Carnet S Vijayalakshmi, the export Carnet availing had grown from 250 applicants in 2007 to 294 in 2008 to reach 174 in the first half of 2009.

The figures of the US export ATA Carnet staggers at around 10,000 applicants in 2007 indicating the well-informed awareness of the customs document by the import/export houses, she added. In a bid to amend ATA Carnet to cover larger items, Ficci—the National Issuing and Guaranteeing Association (NIGA) of Carnet is currently working on methodology and framework to include the import provision for film shooting equipment from foreign countries without creating revenue loss to the government, Vijayalakshmi said.

According to Customs Authorised Signatories Association (CASA) divergence in procedures like demanding shipping bill and bill of entry regulations in various ATA Carnet authorised customs sea ports and air ports in the country is a major hitch in availing of the Carnet document scheme. "Under import ATA Carnet scheme we don't file shipping bill at the sea port where as the same bill is mandatory in the custom clearance at the air port. There is a lack of awareness even among the custom officials themselves located in different custom houses about the various compliance of procedures in dealing with ATA Carnet holders," said a member of CASA.
PS Pruthi, commissioner (customs &export promotion) Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC), ministry of finance admitted the prevalence of divergence of procedures in the various sea and air custom ports subjecting Custom House Agents (CHAs) to undue procedural hassles. "When it comes to trade facilitation part CBEC believes in consultative process," he asserted.