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Customs clearances will be in hours: Chidambaram

By Staff
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Bangalore, Apr 6: Customs clearances will be carried out in a matter of hours rather than days with the increased use of risk management techniques and selective scrutiny of Cargo, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said today.

Inaugurating a three-day IT International Conference of World Customs Organisation (WCO) here, he said ''it will be possible for the Trade to interact with ports/customs only for the purpose of taking delivery of cargo''.

Later talking to newsmen, Mr Chidambaram said that the restructuring and re-engineering of the Customs Department would be completed in a year's time.

He said operations of customs e-commerce portal ICEGATE, which enabled filing of import and export declarations on internet and helpdesk, for solving problems of e-filers, were outsourced as customs officers did not possess the necessary skills to manage technologies, Stating that the era of e-commerce emphasis on use of technology could be characterised by efficiencies which translate to lower costs and quality of service, he said the success of the Indian IT industry was based on these two pillars. Regulatory reforms in recent years had facilitated a philosophy of operational excellence amongst industry players and had ensured that India based delivery, sustains world leading benchmarks in performance.

He said globalisation was an irreversible process and innovative ways of combining economic and social objectives must be sought and where necessary, be based on world expertise.

He said the government was increasingly becoming a service provider and there was need for agility, flexibility and dynamism to be able to respond to the new challenges to create a support structure that could fulfill the new objectives of governance.

Referring to the Conference, he expressed hope that it would provide an opportunity for policy makers, customs and business executives to examine and debate on issues that arise between customs and trade interface and draw a future road map to improve customs delivery systems and enhance its role in nation building. WCO General Secretary Michel Dent in his welcome address said that Customs officials must act as facilitators of international trade and act as a catalyst for development of trade and contribute to alleviation of poverty.

He said the Conference would focus on some important IT related tools that Customs would have to deal with and also on issues concerning outsourcing.

Stating that each country had different system and practices relating to Customs, he said there was a need to create a platform priovidng systems interoperability to improve customs operation.

Calling for greater use of IT in Customs operations, he said the use of biometrics and biomarkers could benefit the functioning of Customs in countering bio terrorisms and other security resks.

He said there was need to fioster partnerships to create an ubiquitous information bus to enable small business worldwide to pay for access data to ascertain about movement of cargo.

He said Ciustoms must invest in innovation to grasp the advantages from Information arbitrage and act as entrepreneurs of information commerce in the knowledge economy.

UNI

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