New Delhi, January 20, 2017

RBI advisory to generate unique number for imports

The Customs Department and the RBI are sharing data to plug gaps in the export-import trade that leads to situations where remittances are made from importers’ accounts even if goods are not been shipped from the selling country.

Banks usually ask for export and import documents — which include bill of lading and customs clearance — before they release funds.

While India was generating a unique number for exports, it was not generating a unique number based on the shipping bill for imports.

Following the Bank of Baroda scam in 2015, when foreign exchange was remitted from importers’ accounts despite there being no import of cargo, the RBI brought in advisory to generate a unique number for each import as well. This was done about a year and half ago.

“After there were problems, we started generating a unique number for imports as well. This helped capture each remittance against each bill of entry. Also, it prevented multiple remittances from being made against each bill of entry,” said Ajai Sahai, DG and CEO, Federation of Indian Export Organisations.

Moreover in imports, payment has to be made within a year. “This also helps prevent a situation which would cause a sudden surge in remittances, leading to sudden increase in demand for dollars and thus further depreciation of currency,” explained an industry source.

These documents are taken as proof for exports from the other country following which remittances are released.

“There was the Bank of Baroda scam where remittances were being made despite shipments not coming in. Earlier, customs and banks were not linked. But there is an RBI advisory which links the information between banks and customs. This will raise a red-flag when there are any discrepancies,” said a government official, on the sidelines of a conference recently.

The customs department asked the private sector to partner the government in formulating rules and norms that would help improve the speed and efficiency of doing business, while ensuring that the cost of compliance does not push up the overall cost of doing business.

[The Hindu Business Line]