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Customs, excise board on course to total e-governance
November, 11th 2006

Hinting at a paradigm shift in the Customs Department's approach to swiftly move towards a National e-Governance Action Plan (Negap), Mr A.K. Raha, Member (Legal, Judicial and Computerisation), Central Board of Customs and Excise (CBEC), said today that a new software package is being developed for total e-governance in the Department. Speaking at an interactive session organised by the CII (Eastern Region) for exporters of the region, he said the primary objective was to extend the software system to Customs and Central excise, and service tax, enabling all Commissionerates to talk to each other online.

Stating that the aim was to e-enable all three Departments within a few years, Mr Raha said that it was in keeping with the Finance Ministry's proposal to introduce goods and services tax by 2010.

Terming the plan as "total convergence, integration and interaction," he sought qualitative suggestions from the trade to turn Negap into a successful project.

Admitting that the DGFT and Customs software packages were still not fully compatible, he said that while the Customs Department's electronic data interchange (EDI) was 10 years old, the DGFT had just launched its online exercise.

Stressing the need for a smooth interface between the DGFT and Customs for online verification of documents in order to put trade facilitation on the right track, he said that interconnectivity issues are being addressed.

He assured exporters that they may have to wait only a little longer for this networking facility to become operational.

To queries on continuance of manual submission of documents even after a full-fledged EDI system has been put in place, Mr Raha said that the EDI was like "an old man who has to be revitalised."

Conceding that the matter should be addressed at the policy level, he said that in e-governance, "we need to move up to a higher level without any further delay."

LTU Pilot

The first large taxpayer unit (LTU) in the country (in Bangalore) is scheduled for inauguration by Finance Minister Mr P. Chidambaram on Saturday.

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