Faceless assessment to begin at Bengaluru, Chennai from today

Shishir Sinha New Delhi | Updated on June 07, 2020

The Ministry of Finance   -  The Hindu

The scheme will initially cover select goods; move to ensure uniformity in assessments

After the successful completion of the pilot process, the Finance Ministry has decided to implement faceless assessment for import of certain categories of goods at Bengaluru and Chennai from June 8.

It also plans to scale up the scheme to the all-India level by December 31.

Faceless assessment aims to ease the process of goods that land and are taken out of a sea port or airport. Customs officers sitting in any part of the country will assess documents (bills of entry) of importers at any port.

This is expected to bring anonymity in assessment and reduce the physical interface between the assessing officer and the importer/broker to a large extent. It will ensure uniformity in assessments across the country and promote sector-specific approach and functional specialisation. It is also expected to improve the workload balance among the various field formations for efficient utilisation of resources.

In the first phase, the faceless assessment will cover goods such as nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances and parts. Another set of goods covered include electrical machinery and equipment and parts, television image and sound recorders and reproducers, and parts and accessories of such articles. It may be noted the under the pilot phase, the first programme of faceless assessment was started in Chennai in August 2019 for certain goods. Later, similar pilot programmes were conducted in Customs formations at Delhi, Bengaluru, Gujarat and Visakhapatnam for more goods.

Harpreet Singh, Partner at KPMG, said: “Though forward-looking and a topical initiative, the success of faceless assessments will depend on how well the Faceless Assessment Groups are able to understand classification of products across sectors and complete assessments in a time-bound manner.”

Two notifications

For the first phase, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Custom (CBIC) has issued a couple of notifications (No 50 and 51).

The first notification implements faceless assessment across the different principal chief commissioner/chief commissioner zones – irrespective of whether the goods are imported at any Customs station falling under the jurisdiction of Bengaluru or Chennai – the bill of entry (‘BoE’) will be marked by the Customs Automated System to the nominated Faceless Assessment Group (FAG) for assessment.

Thus, this notification enables a proper officer to assess the bill of entry pertaining to different custom stations if such bill of entry has been assigned to him in the customs automated system. However, it has been clarified that in the first phase of the roll out, the notification will apply only for inter-linking of Bengaluru and Chennai Customs Zones.

The second notification is to ensure that trade is not put to any hardship and their appeals are heard locally. For this purpose, the board has empowered jurisdictional Commissioner of Customs (Appeals) at Bengaluru and Chennai to take up appeals filed in respect to faceless assessment pertaining to imports made in their jurisdiction even though the assessing officer may be located in other customs stations.

There will be Port Assessment Groups (PAGs) in each port of import for verification of the assessment and other related functions as is the normal practice. It will also handle all other functions pertaining to the BoE, which are not marked to the FAG or any BoE referred to it. A dedicated cell to facilitate the various formalities under the new system, such as accepting bond or bank guarantee, will work as the ‘Turant Suvidha Kendra’.

Published on June 07, 2020

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