Imports are stuck in ports due to payment disruptions

Import shipments are stuck in ports and terminals across the country, impacting multiple sectors since April 1 due to disruptions in the new payment system.

An industry body representing the western region – the Brihanmumbai Custom Brokers Association – has highlighted the problem of non-payment of customs duties on the newly launched portal and asked the government for help.

A letter to the Directorate-General for Systems and Data Management, Customs and Central Excises said there had been difficulties paying customs dues because Challans were not visible on ICEGATE.

“All import shipments are affected, including food and medicines with a short shelf life, which agents cannot accept. This creates hardship for patients and chaos in general,” said an industry leader.

The government acknowledged that there were problems. “CBIC (Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs) has identified that members of the trade are having difficulty making customs payments through the automated customs system. It should be noted that an improved and modern payment system has been in operation since April 1, 2023. Our technical teams are working overtime to fix some teething problems and the problems identified temporarily will be fixed at the earliest,” it tweeted late Monday.

The recently launched cash ledger module allows users to create a virtual account on the ICEGATE website and act as a means of payment for customs duties online alongside the current payment methods which are internet banking and NEFT/RTGS.

Simply put, it is a kind of wallet function on the ICEGATE website to credit funds to the registered commercial user’s virtual account and use them for customs payments.

The customs payment system isn’t the only platform struggling with teething problems. Even MCA 21 of the Department of Corporate Affairs faced transition issues, prompting the Department to resort to manual filing.

In the past, the GST network was riddled with bugs, and even the newly launched income tax portal had several issues, prompting the government to reach out to Infosys’ management to resolve them.

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