The Kochi Customs has initiated various trade-friendly measures such as simplification of transhipment procedures with a view to boosting the business of the Vallarpadam ICTT, which is of late reported to be loosing business on account of a variety of reasons.
Mr S.A.S. Navaz, Deputy Commissioner, Kochi Customs, said that all applications could be now filed by the steamer agents online with effect from January 7. Therefore, the paperwork connected to transhipment procedures has become easy and almost nil now.
Even the physical seal verification at the time of transhipment does not take much time now he said.
Expressing concern over the fall in business at the ICTT, he said the reasons for the decline in business were escalation of the handling charges by the terminal operator and escalation in the cost due to non-availability of examination yard inside ICTT since traders will have to bear the cost of taking their cargo to container freight stations or to Willingdon Island for examination.
These have driven off most of the traders from Kochi. This has affected Customs revenue also to a great extent, he said.
He cited a steep fall in the revenue from July 2011 where it stood at Rs 215.65crore against Rs 307.52 crore in the corresponding month of the previous year.
The revenue in September 2011 was Rs 104.51crore against Rs 313.15 crore the previous year. During October, November and December 2011, the figures stood at Rs104.41crore; Rs 96.54 crore and Rs 80.31crore respectively against Rs 260.45 crore; Rs 247.02 crore and Rs 209.72 crore in the previous year, he points out.
According to Mr Navaz, certain procedures are followed to prevent illegal imports and exports. One such procedure is verification of seals of containers during transhipment.
In the case of ICTT, containers and its cargo are not examined during transhipment but only the seals verified and only if the seals are found tampered or broken, the containers are subjected to detailed examination.
Verification of seals of containers does not consume much time and this has been blown out of proportion by the terminal operator and the SEZ authorities, he alleged.
Verification of seals could be done as soon as the vessel arrives, either from another coastal port for exports or from a foreign port for imports because it takes few days for the actual transhipment to take place since transhipment takes place in a different vessel while seal verification could be completed within hours of the arrival of the first vessel, he added.