CBIC Asks Officials to Free Up Shipping Containers amid Global Shortage

In order to free up shipping containers, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has asked field units to quickly dispose of unclaimed or confiscated goods and move import cargo pending inquiry to warehouses.

The instructions have come amid a global shortage of shipping containers-triggered by the temporary closure of seaports including those in China due to Covid-19 pandemic-which has led to a massive increase in freight rates and an imminent slump in exports. CBIC has also asked the field units to give monthly updates on containers that have been held up by intelligence agencies or stuck in court cases, and subsequently freed up.

“Dispose expeditiously the unclaimed/ uncleaned/ seized/ confiscated goods including that are holding up containers… whenever it becomes necessary to detain the imported cargo, pending completion of enquiry/investigation, such cargo should be removed to a customs warehouse and the container can be released for further use,” the Board said in instructions issued to field units on Friday night.

CBIC has sought monthly progress reports from field formations before the 5th of each month. “It is guided that proactive steps enabling release of such containers should also be adopted,” the Board said.

Industry has asked the government for a freight support scheme and for movement of empty containers out of India to be curtailed. In a meeting held by commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal earlier this week, the government, however, asked container shipping lines to be transparent while levying payment in free foreign exchange. S-ET

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