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Revenue dept turns down US call for duty info system
July, 15th 2006

The revenue department has turned down an offer from the US government for assistance in establishing a comprehensive tariff information system. The proposed system was meant to be a single-stop shop for exact details of import duties on any product.

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) rejected the proposal, saying it was an extremely complex affair. Citing diversity of exemption notifications and export-promotion schemes, the Board virtually washed its hand off from the proposed system.

The revenue departments unwillingness to go ahead with the project was recently conveyed to the US, highly-placed government sources said. The opportunity to develop a user-friendly system with technical assistance from the American side has slipped off as a result of the move, they said.

After several complaints from American exporters, the US Trade and Development Agency had offered to help the revenue department to develop a portal that would provide comprehensive details on customs duties and data.

Government officials said several US exporters have complained from time to time that there was no way of sourcing Indian import duty data from a single source.

Without referring to notifications issued from time to time, it was virtually impossible to obtain correct import duty information. The maze of numerous notifications regarding tariffs and various exemptions has been criticised by many countries.

Exporters from various countries had taken up the matter at joint business council meetings, the officials said. The CBEC was asked to consider a comprehensive tariff information system, after the US government offered help to establish such a system.

The commerce department had conveyed the request to the finance ministry and then it was referred to the revenue department. Officials of the department were of the view that the proposed system would benefit American exporters more than the Indian importers.

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