Coimbatore, March 16, 2018

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has undertaken a sensitisation drive on a war-footing on IGST reforms and AEO (Authorised Economic Operators) concept. It has decided to observe the current fortnight ending March 29, 2018 as “IGST/ Input Tax Credit Refund” fortnight.

Ranjan Kumar Routray, Chief Commissioner of Customs, Trichy told BusinessLine that the department is committed to address and clear all the pending IGST refund claims by end March. “We have disbursed around Rs 60 crore in Trichy zone and have another Rs 100 crore to Rs 150 crore to be settled during this fortnight. Officers have been trained to deal exclusively with the pending IGST refund and ITC claims. A nodal officer has been posted in each commissionerate to address the issue,” he said.

Routray was in the city to participate in an interactive session on AEOs. Speaking on the sidelines of the programme, organised by the Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO), he said that the “exporters should come forward and pursue their claim for refund”.

“We are facilitating sanction of IGST refunds held back due to mismatch in invoice related information, errors associated with filing of Export General Manifest (EGM) in gateway port, and systemic glitches that exporters face — be it calculation error or shipping bill error, filing/ posting error and so on. We are targeting to address the pending claims between July 1, 2017 and January 31, 2018. Special ‘Refund Cells’ with dedicated manpower and infrastructure are being operated at all customs formations for speeding up the sanction of refunds.”

Tirupur is understood to account for the maximum number of claims pending sanctions. “We are advising exporters to appoint some senior person and ensure that their filing is error-free. It will help them get their claim within 3-4 days.”

To a query on the difficulty that exporters claim they face in uploading returns, he said, “When the assessee uploads the claims return, he deals with a number of agencies. He has to file on GSTN portal and from the GSTN portal to customs, more than 50 per cent have not been ported. There is presumably load problem in the GSTN portal.”

Who can an AEO?

The CBEC can certify AEOs, but “there are no takers and it is a matter of research for us” Routray said, highlighting the benefits of being a certified AEO. “AEO certification is applicable to all stakeholders. It is a three-tier certification process. A tier-I certified AEO is accorded “VIP treatment”, given high level of facilitation in export and import of their consignments, thereby ensuring shorter cargo release time, and wherever feasible, will be given a separate space in the custodian’s premises. If they are required to furnish a bank guarantee, they can get a 50 per cent concession compared to a non-certified AEO.”

According to Routray, there are only 11 registered AEOs in the entire zone at present. The department is now conducting a screening test to certify and on-board at least 25 AEOs in the next fortnight. Department sources said that there were hundreds of eligible candidates (exporters) in this region, who could get the AEO certification. “It is voluntary one. So, we are now trying to sensitise the stakeholders about the benefits of the certification. It is valid globally,” Routray added.

Notwithstanding such relentless drives, the zone has already achieved its revenue target for the current fiscal. “We will surpass it 35 - 40 per cent and possibly rank among the top 10 zones in the country,” the Chief Commissioner said.

[The Hindu Business Line]