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Shortage of Assistant Commissioners hampering functioning of Customs & Excise Deptt Daily Excelsior, Srinagar, April 05, 2012

Chief Commissioner, Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax, P S Pruthi, today said that the shortage of 11 Assistant Commissioners in the Northern region is hampering the functioning of the department. He, however exuded confidence that over the next three months Assistant Commissioner would be placed at Srinagar.

Addressing the participants during a workshop organized by Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on ATA Carnet here, Pruthi said that problems of service tax are prevalent in most parts of the country, adding that these issues are not in vogue in the state.

"I am fully aware about the problems faced by the people associated with trade and industry due to the absence of Assistant Commissioner here. Once the Assistant Commissioner is posted here issues related to customs and central excise would be solved. This step is bound to provide relief to the business community in Kashmir," said Pruthi.

Pruthi said issues like seizure of Pashmina shawls on the pretext of them being Shahtoosh shawls cannot be solved by Customs department adding that Wildlife Institute of India is an important stakeholder on the issue. He added that he is ready to discuss the issues confronting the businessmen with them during his present visit to the Kashmir valley.

"It is not one agency that is involved with an issue like seizure of Pashmina shawls. As such all the people need to be taken into confidence before taking any decision on this matter. I am ready to do my bit but the other concerned agencies should also come forward so that some solution is found out," said Pruthi.

He said that India is not a signatory to the Istanbul convention and no exporter or importer is allowed to change the name of goods once they complete all the formalities for getting this document. He said that ATA Carnet registration is valid for six months adding that this can be extended for six more months.

"The ATA Carnet is not allowed for prohibited goods and it is applicable for goods that are permitted to be either imported or exported under the law. As and when any exporter or importer is found involved in trade of prohibited goods his license is cancelled. One thing good with Jammu and Kashmir is that there are very few service tax matters. Otherwise it is a serious issue in rest of the country," said Pruthi.

In her presentation, S Vijayalakshmi, Director, FICCI said that ATA Carnet is a global customs document which simplifies customs procedures at different custom stations to facilitate temporary importation of goods. She said ATA convention is signed by 71 countries including India around the world.

"The ATA Carnet permits duty free temporary admission of goods into a member country without the need to raise customs bond, payment of duty and fulfillment of other customs formalities in one or a number of foreign countries. The ATA Carnet service is available to business and sales executives, exhibitors at trade fairs and traveling professionals such as film crews, architects, artists, engineers, photographers and sports teams," said Vijayalakshmi.

In his presentation, Abdul Hamid Punjabi, President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCC&I) said that the workshop would be beneficial in expediting its efficacy for the business community of Kashmir valley. He said that ATA Carnet can be used since the Kashmir valley consists of large handicraft clusters and other allied sectors.

He pitched for opening up of a laboratory at Srinagar saying that this would help in proper checking of the material used in making of the Pashmina shawls. He said this step would help in ending the harassment meted out to the Kashmiri businessman as they are being victimized for no fault of theirs.

Senior Director FICCI, Nirankar Saxena gave a brief resume of the activities carried out by FICCI in connection with ATA Carnet.