CBEC launches ‘SWIFT’ for quick, single-window import clearances

K. R. Srivats New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on April 02, 2016

Najib Shah, Chairman, CBEC

Will reduce documentation and costs for importers; integrated risk management facility will cover six government agencies

To make life easier for millions of importers, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has launched ‘SWIFT’, an initiative to speed up clearances for consignments and improve ‘ease of doing business.’

Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) provides a single-point interface for clearance and is expected to reduce documentation and costs. It is expected to cover and benefit over 97 per cent of India’s imports. Importers will not need to run around to get approvals from multiple government agencies for their consignments.

The single window will connect over 50 offices of six government agencies with the Indian customs department. These are the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI); Department of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage; Drug Controller; Animal Quarantine; Wild Life Crime Control Bureau and Textile Committee.

“From the comfort of your office, you (importer) can electronically file a common integrated declaration with the customs department. It replaces nine separate forms required by six different government agencies and customs”, Najib Shah, Chairman,CBEC, told reporters at North Block on Saturday.

Once a common integrated declaration is filed, the CBEC’s ICEGATE portal – not the officers – will now decide on the level of examination and testing based on the principle of risk management.

This will be possible, as the CBEC has also introduced an integrated risk management facility covering the six government agencies. The discretion of officers’ has been distilled into CBEC’s computer system, said a top CBEC official.

“Earlier, I had a risk management system that took the concerns of customs primarily. Now, we have taken on board the concerns of each one of the six agencies”, Shah said.

The launch of SWIFT is a big step because there are very few administrations in the world that had managed to put this in place. Among the countries that have launched single-window interface are Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Thailand and Malaysia.

“Anecdotally, we are told that the US is looking at a timeline of 2018 for implementing this,” Shah said.

The SWIFT initiative would reduce the time taken for clearances. “One would not like to hazard a guess about how much time. Definitely, there is going to be reduction in time,” Shah said.

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Published on April 02, 2016
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