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Revenue Dept orders faster Customs clearance to boost perishable farm good exports

To boost exports of perishable agro items, the revenue department has asked customs officials to accord speedy clearance to such cargo and directed that 'routine' checks should be done only in special cases.

'...export consignments of perishable agricultural goods should not be examined in a routine manner and should be examined only in cases of specific intelligence...,' the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) communication to Customs said.

Examination even in case of specific intelligence has to be done with prior permission of concerned Assistant Commissioner/Deputy Commissioner of Customs, it added.

The directions follow the suggestion of a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce. It said that to promote export of Agriculture and Processed Food products, the Customs authorities must be sensitised to accord priority clearance to perishable agro products cargo.

During 2011-12, India exported fruits and vegetables worth Rs 4,801 crore. The floriculture export was Rs 365.32 crores in 2011-12.

The CBEC further said that perishable cargo which is taken up for examination 'should be given Customs clearance on the same day itself'. In cases where there are contraventions of Customs law, it said, 'necessary legal action shall be taken but, in this case too, it shall be ensured that the perishable cargo is dealt with in such a manner...so that it is not unduly held up in ports/airports etc'.

Further, as a trade facilitation measure, the CBEC has decided to extend the facility of 24x7 Customs clearance for export consignments of perishable agricultural export goods at all air cargo complexes across the country. Mangoes, walnuts, grapes, bananas, pomegranates account for larger portion of fruits exported from the country while onions, okra, bitter gourd, green chillies, mushrooms and potatoes contribute largely to the vegetable export basket.

Bangladesh, UAE, Pakistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, UK, Saudi Arabia and Nepal are the major destinations for Indian fruits and vegetables.

The major importing countries for Indian floriculture are the US, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Japan, Canada and UAE.
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