The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has brought about much needed ease for the importers by restoring flexibility in paperwork. The importers had been facing difficulty in doing the necessary paperwork, filing of bill of entry on the day before arrival of goods at the Indian port within the revised timeframe.
The Finance Act 2021 introduced the revised timeframe to ensure that disclosure of import details is completed a day before, so that processing of paperwork could be completed quickly and delays may be avoided. India’s customs procedures has often been flagged by the World Bank as an area which needs reforms to improve the country’s ease of doing business ranking.
As such, the CBIC has given exemption to shipments from neighbouring countries – Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar and Pakistan, as importers will not be in a position to do the paperwork the day before. The change has been incorporated in the regulations regarding declaration of imported goods.
Over the past year, the board has taken several steps to reduce documentation and do more of the paperwork digitally and in an automated way to avoid physical interface between the authorities and importers. It has brought in a host of measures to do away with the requirement of signing and examining physical documents before imported goods are cleared. Imports are now being processed with electronic documentation, in an effort to boost governance and reduce compliance cost of businesses.
This flexibility will also improve India’s standing in ease of doing business. Junaid Ahmed, World Bank Country Director in India, in 2019 had said that India’s impressive progression in the Doing Business rankings over the past few years is a tremendous achievement, especially for an economy that is as large and complex as India’s. “Special focus given by top leadership of the country, and the persistent efforts made to drive the business reforms agenda, not only at the central level but also at the state level, helped India make significant improvements.”