Customs officials will draw samples of rice meant for exports as part of the Centre’s efforts to prevent any violation of the curbs imposed by the Government on the foodgrain’s exports. On Thursday, the Commissioner of Customs in Chennai issued a circular providing standard operating procedure (SOP) for drawl of rice samples in export consignments
The move followed after field officers complained of difficulties faced by them in verifying the consignments before clearance them. It also comes after some consignments were allegedly found to be violating the restrictions by declaring as parboiled rice.
Sources said some brokers were active in Chennai offering to export white rice in the garb of parboiled rice and at least 50 such consignments had entered Chennai and other ports around it.
The circular said: “In order to streamline the Customs clearance it is decided to put in place procedure for sampling and testing of rice samples for ascertaining correct description and HS code.”
“After receipt of the test report in original, after verifying the authenticity, shed officer may ensure the same is uploaded in E sanchit and the details of the Test report has to be mentioned in the Departmental Comments in the respective Shipping Bill. Based on the test report, the examination report may be submitted and Let Export Order (LEO) to be issued on the same day,” the commissioner said.
He has also asked shed officers to take two sets of samples randomly from 10 per cent of the total packages declared in the Shipping Bill and brought for registration.
The Directorate-General of Foreign Trade, on September 8, placed a prohibition on the export of broken rice from September 9 but allowed the consignments to be exported under specific conditions between September 9-15. It has recently extended the last date to September 30. The transitional relaxation shall be further extended up to October 15, the Food Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
On the same day, the Centre also imposed a 20 per cent duty on export of all varieties of rice, except basmati and parboiled rice, with effect from September 9.
Without any minimum export price (MEP) in place, the export of non-basmati rice can be passed on as basmati rice and raw rice as parboiled rice, many experts have said. “With the latest circular from the Customs, it is clear that they have found consignments at ports with the intent to cheat,” said an expert and suggested the government sit with stakeholders and issue all necessary rules at once.
“The Customs move will certainly plug the current procedural loopholes, which were earlier open to fly-by-night operators. When the Government has released the new National Logistics Policy, the implementation of the current procedure is a test case for customs and export promotion institutions,” said S Chandrasekharan, a trade analyst.
He said the “evolving situation” required quality control mechanism in addition to quality assurance.