Sticking to its demand for an area demarcated specifically for Customs at the Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT), the Customs authorities on Wednesday said that the issue could be solved by implementing the guidelines stipulated in the office memorandum of the Ministry of Commerce. The memorandum issued on April 5, 2007, stipulates certain guidelines for the functioning of the Customs in an SEZ area. But these guidelines have not been implemented till date despite repeated requests to the Cochin Port Trust chairman and SEZ development commissioner, Customs Commissioner C Vijay Kalsi has said at a press conference.
In the memorandum, it is clearly stated that the ports would be located in the non-processing area of the SEZs and there should be a demarcation from the rest of the SEZ, to be done jointly by the development commissioners and the jurisdictional commissioner of Customs, keeping in view the operational necessities as may be warranted, Kalsi said. Another guideline is that there would be separate entry/exit route duly secured for the movement of both export and import of Domestic Tariff Area
(DTA) cargo from and to the port area and the same would be so isolated? from the rest of the SEZ to prevent any diversion or mixing of DTA and SEZ cargo. The memorandum further states that all provisions of the Custom Act 1962, rules and regulations issued thereunder, would apply to the port as demarcated from the rest of the SEZ, he said. The implementation of the guidelines would have helped in the smooth functioning and discharge of statutory functions under SEZ Act and Rules by the authorised officers of SEZ and Customs Act, Rules and Regulations by the Officers of Customs, the Customs Commissioner said.
Kalsi further pointed out that lack of Electronic Data Interface (EDI) made customs activities difficult at the ICTT. Containers are moving out without any customs document for the lack of EDI system. EDI provides for movement from one customs area to another customs area and hence can be installed only in the customs area outside the processing area of SEZ, he said.
Kalsi said that the newly-appointed development commissioner had assured them to look into the matter. We hope that the issue could be solved soon, he said. The India Gateway Terminal Private Limited (IGTPL) is of the stand that the Customs Act is not applicable to them. Only a custodian appointed under the Customs Act can handle the cargo in the customs area.