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CII asks Centre to constitute shipping regulatory body

Export sector is having a trying time because of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly at the sea. The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) has asked the Union government to have a regulatory body for shipping in the line with Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

“It can be called National Shipping Regulatory Body which can be formed along the lines of IRDA and TRAI,” Sanjay Budhia, national chairman of CII (Export and Import), said.

Budhia said the exporters are facing several problems during exports related to freight rates, availability of containers, booking of spaces in the vessels and timely sailing. And these are becoming costly during the pandemic situation.

“This leads to the commitments getting compromised in the international markets. At every stage exporters have to struggle,” said Budhia.

He said that the government would be required to help the exporters in this trying time. This is particularly when the exporters are also facing issues regarding surcharges along with procedural intricacies.

“The shipping lines have imposed several small surcharges and incidental charges such as issuance of bill of lading. These are a sizable amount leading to a lot of challenges. Thus we need to have the regulatory framework,” Budhia said.

According to him, a regulatory body, if is constituted, would determine freight rates and other surcharges.

The CII today held a seminar on the trade facilities regarding the various issues the exporters were facing across the country.

The participants included chairman of the Kolkata Port Trust, Vinit Kumar, and special secretary, logistics, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Pawan Kumar Agarwal, and R. Ananth, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs.

Kumar said that the customer charter declaration by the shipping ministry is itself a customer-focused step.

“Putting very strict timeline matching to the international standard is a path-breaking move. Other steps such as digitisation of freight movement from entry till onboard, installation of four mobile harbours and introduction for filling export application online for container entry etc, are very important moves,” said Kumar.

Agarwal said that the Union government is drafting the new logistics policy which will follow a holistic and balanced approach for addressing the concern of the industry. This is being done to reform the areas of logistics in shipping. A tool kit is being prepared to improve the port system of India. The Union government has given logistics segments (which helps in movements of goods) like Cold Chains, Inland Container Depots and war-houses have been given infrastructure status.

“This is a testimony to the government’s commitment to improve trade facilitation,” said Agarwal.

He said all these steps were taken to ease doing exports during the unprecedented COVID-19 situation.

The senior officer said the ministry is working towards introduction of facilitative measures which would lead to reduction in documentation and further simplify the regulatory mechanisms.

“Bringing all stakeholders on a common digital platform will help in enhancing transparency and in reducing dwell time and costs associated with trading,” said Agarwal.

Ananth said the key government initiatives for the ease of trade such as implementation of Turant Customs programme, which aims to create a faceless, paperless, and contactless Customs in phases across the entire country by January 1, 2021.

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