In order to improve ‘ease of doing business’ in the country, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) to cut down the examination of consignments at ports to just 10 per cent of the present value through “risk-based criteria”.
“CBEC will follow up with the heads of all agencies (port regulators, airport terminal operators, etc) to address the issue of bringing down number of consignments for examination to 10 per cent through risk-based criteria,” said the minutes of the meeting chaired by Nripendra Mishra, principal secretary to PM, on May 7 this year. This meeting was called to review implementation of recommendations for improving “ease of doing business” in India.
While the principal secretary gave a deadline of May 20 to CBEC in order to get this done, the minutes said: “In case the issue is not addressed by the said date, CBEC chairman will request principal secretary to PM to call a meeting on this issue.” In this meeting, the principal secretary also asked the CBEC chairman to extend 24X7 operations for agencies to all border posts to increase efficiency of clearance by the end of September.
Finance ministry sources said the CBEC has so far extended 24X 7 customs clearance facilities to 19 sea ports and 17 Air Cargo complexes.
The Board has also introduced a number of measures for faster clearance of goods at the ports. For instance, filing of declarations by importers and exporters through digital signatures has been enabled with effect from January 1, with nearly 97 per cent of such declarations being filed electronically and balance 3 per cent is being filed through the service centre, the sources said.
The CBEC has set up Central Customs Clearance Facilitation Committees at every major Customs seaport and airport for faster clearance. The customs department also plans to incorporate 44 scanners at various ports before March 2017, comprising of 11 drive-through scanners owned by the department and 33 mobile scanners that will be procured by private ports and operated by customs department.
These measures are aimed at improving business dealings in the country. Ministries and departments have been asked to take measures which help in making it easy to start and run a business in the country.
India ranked at 130th position in terms of ease of doing business, with little or no improvement in most of the areas that were assessed in order to get this ranking, as per the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ report published in October. India’s moved up 1 rank from last year’s revised 131 among the 190 economies that were assessed on various parameters.
India improved its ranking on parameters of getting electricity, registering property and enforcing contracts. However, there was deterioration in rankings on areas of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting credit, resolving insolvency and protecting minority investors, as per the report.
In the area of trading across borders, the World Bank report recognised the implementation of the Single Window Interface for Trade (ICEGATE) by the CBEC, which integrates approvals and risk-based frameworks of customs and nine departments to provide traders with a single online interface for import clearances. Consequently, India’s ranking on this parameter — “trading across borders” — improved by one position to 143. In last year’s ranking, India was at 144th position.
While commenting on the Doing Business rankings, the commerce and industry ministry had said that the report did not take into account 12 key reforms undertaken since June 1. The government said it has set the target of being among the top 50 rank in the Doing Business report in the coming years.
New Zealand tops the list of countries in the Doing Business 2017, while Singapore is ranked second. It is followed by Denmark, Hong Kong, South Korea, Norway, the UK, the US and, Sweden. Neighbouring Pakistan improved its rank by 4 points at 144th in the list.