When several exporters were issued show cause notices for non-levy of customs duty on re-import of products exported for international trade shows, GJEPC stepped in quickly to resolve matters. It also made representations to officials about keeping ‘Origin of Goods’ in abeyance for a while
It was a regular working day for Kumar Jain of Umedmal Tilokchand Zaveri till he checked his mail and saw a show cause notice (SCN) for non-levy of customs duty. Rubbing his eyes in disbelief, the Mumbai-based jeweller checked again and saw that it was for re-imports of unsold gems and jewellery exported for a promotional event on consignment basis. Perplexed, he called an industry peer, Kishore Gajaria, who also participates in international events. Imagine his surprise, when he learnt that Gajaria, too, had received a similar missive! Vasantraj Birawat of Chain N Chain Jewels, who did not receive a SCN, soon learnt about the issue and became worried. The trader community decided to escalate matters to the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), which got cracking with its team of experts to understand the issue at hand and resolve it quickly.
EXERCISE OF EXCISE DUTY
Around 1,000 exporters were issued SCN for non-levy of customs duty. These were charged on re-import of unsold gems and jewellery exported for exhibitions and export promotion tours on consignment basis under the entry at Sr No 3 of the table contained in Customs Notification No 94/96-cus dated 16-12.1996. Many exporters also received a pre-notice consultation (PNC) for availing undue notification benefit under notification no.46/2017.
GJEPC representatives met the Additional Commissioner of Customs, Member Customs, CBIC, Additional Director General of Foreign Trade, Additional General of Export Promotion and CHA to discuss this matter. It disseminated a circular among its members outlining steps they can take on receiving a SCN and how to submit an extension letter on its receipt. It also guided them on attending the personal hearing (PH) and requesting for time to submit their reply. Moreover, it distributed a mailer regarding the extension letter to members who received the SNC and informed them about the modalities involved in submission for extension letter to the customs department. To everyone’s delight, the Ministry issued a clarification, vide circular no.17/2019, which made everyone heave a huge sigh of relief.
Taking cognisance of those members who had received PNC for availing undue notification benefit, GJEPC officials made a representation to the Chief Commissioner of Customs, requesting for withdrawal of instructions issued for constitution of task force for the purposes of issuance of PCNs and SCNs in the matter. It also distributed circulars to members with a reply draft for PNC and a reply draft on receipt of SCN. This came as a ready resource for members who wanting to seek an extension so that they could prepare their documents accordingly. The Council also guided members on how to fill out these drafts, including information to be filled in the blanks provided, where to submit it, what the various paras meant, where to take the printout, should to put their initials on documents, etc. GJEPC also conducted a seminar to educate them about SCN and PH, what is a normal notary or a registered one, the value of stamp paper and should they submit an affidavit on receipt of PH. The outcome of these initiatives was that on submission of the documents, members received an order for nonpayment of duty.
HELPING IN STREAMLINING PROCESSES
The Office of the Commissioner of Customs, Mumbai, directed industry members to provide elaborate details of rough diamonds declared for export to decide their value. It noted that the description of goods stated in the documents filed for clearance was often incomplete and, in most cases, the imported and exported goods were merely stated as ‘Rough Diamonds’. This was primarily in the case of valuation of rough diamonds, which had been disseminated suspecting the same as cases of ‘suspected misdeclaration’. A note from the Customs Office stated that details like origin, size, shape (octahedrons, longs, mackles, flats, triangles, etc.), colour and clarity are essential for proper assessment of imported rough diamonds or those entered for export. It put the onus on the importer or exporter to state these details in the bills of entry or shipping Bills filed for the clearance of such goods.
GJEPC pointed out that India is the Chair of Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) 2019. A special forum on ‘Valuation on Rough Diamonds’ was conducted in June 2019 where intersessional meeting with WCO representatives were invited. It therefore requested the Customs office to keep this procedure in abeyance and not implement it for the time being. The Indian government has been working hard to boost domestic manufacturing and promote exports. The board decided to incorporate additional attributes in the Shipping Bill to enable the Customs System to capture the Districts and States of Origin for goods exported. GJEPC met the Commissioner of Customs and officials at the Ministry of Commerce to apprise them about the practical challenges in this domain. They also recommended keeping the information provided on Origin of Goods in abeyance, till the practical solution to some challenges are finalised. They requested the Customs department to allow exporters to carry on their exports by mentioning Mumbai as the district and Maharashtra as state since exports takes place from Mumbai’s Precious Cargo Customs Clearance Centre. A circular about this meeting was shared with the Council’s members, so they were aware about the proceedings.