Faceless assessment of importers’ documents on cards

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 19, 2020

Faceless assessment will ease the process of Customs clearances in ports   -  THE HINDU

The move is expected to cut red tape and bring in transparency

Soon imported goods will go through faceless assessment. This will mean custom officers sitting in any part of the country will assess documents of importers at any port.

This is expected to ease the entire process of goods being landed and taken out of a sea port or an airport.

After completion of pilot projects, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Custom (CBIC) has decided to introduce faceless assessment. 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 workload balance amongst various field formations for efficient utilisation of resources.

The Board has invited comments on the concept note of this exercise till March 3.

To put in place the system, the board plans to restructure the existing Commissionerates into two categories — National Assessment Commissionerates (NACs) and Jurisdictional Port Commissionerates (JPCs).

All NACs will essentially be ‘Virtual Commissionerates’ with officers drawn from different Customs locations, who will be virtually connected. Each NAC will have an all India jurisdiction and it would consist of a cluster of “Faceless Assessment Groups” (FAGs) headed by Assistant Commissioners or Deputy Commissioners drawn at all India level either from the various Virtual Commissionerates or JPCs.

The FAGs will be legally empowered to undertake assessments pertaining to any Customs location in India. The Customs Automated System would allocate the bills of entry to the officers who are part of those FAGs in a randomised manner for the purposes of assessment, irrespective of the port in which the goods have arrived and a bill of entry filed for Customs clearance.

The randomised allocation would ensure a balanced workload amongst the officers assigned to a particular FAG.

FAG by its design will ensure the anonymity of the assessment officer.

According to Harpreet Singh, Partner, KPMG, formation of Virtual Commissionerates and Faceless Assessment Groups (FAGs) is not a new concept as it already exists in some developed economies.

“The success of FAGs in the Indian tax environment would depend upon their ability to understand the classification issues across sectors resulting in smooth conclusion of assessments,” he said.

As of now one of the core functions of the Customs administration is to give ‘clearance’ (referred to as ‘out of charge’ in Customs parlance) to the imported goods for home consumption, after levying appropriate duties/taxes and enforcing applicable restrictions and prohibitions in relation to those imported goods at the time of crossing the border.

The clearance function may comprise of assessment of bill of entry by the proper officer or acceptance of self-assessment done by the importer by Customs Automated System or physical examination of goods or inspection of marks and numbers on the cartons or checking integrity of container seals.

The decision with regard to both is taken based on the risk evaluation carried out by Customs Automated System.

Published on February 19, 2020

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