CBIC deserves credit for efficient assessment

Topics CBIC

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has advanced by two months the date for roll out of ‘faceless assessment’ (also referred to as anonymous assessment or virtual assessment) of imported goods, on a pan-Indian basis. It will be implemented at all the Customs stations except the land Customs stations by the end of next month.

The first phase of the ‘faceless assessment’ for imported goods was introduced in the first week of June this year at Bengaluru and Chennai Customs zones only for items (mostly machineries and their parts) covered under Chapters 84 and 85 of the Customs Tariff.

The CBIC issued detailed instructions dealing with constitution of port assessment groups, faceless assessment groups, Turant Suvidha Kendras, responsibilities of the Nodal Commissioners, responsibilities of the port of import, procedures for verification of assessment of Bill of entry by faceless assessment groups in the normal course and in exceptional circumstances, issue of speaking orders, appellate proceedings and review proceedings. They also include demand for non-levy or short levy or short-payment of Customs duties or interest, provisional assessment, amendment of Bill of entry, exchange of communication exclusively by electronic mode, authentication of electronic records and so on.

The second phase of the roll out included Delhi and Mumbai Customs zones for ‘faceless assessment’ in the first week of August and expanded the scope to include items falling under Chapters 29, 50 to 71 and 92. Most of the instructions issued earlier continued to apply and it was envisaged that ‘faceless assessment’ would be rolled out throughout the country by the end of this year.

Last week, the CBIC said that after testing the information technology capabilities as well as the responsiveness of the trade and Customs officers to ‘faceless assessment’ in the first two phases in real-life environment, results showed that the objectives of exponentially faster clearance of goods, reduced interface between trade and Customs officers and enhanced ease of doing business were fully met. Therefore, the CBIC decided to roll out the ‘faceless assessment’ at an all India level in all ports of import and for all imported goods by October 31, 2020.

The CBIC has now issued instructions for constitution of National Assessment Centres (NACs), responsibilities of the NACs, responsibilities of the co-convenors of NACs, co-ordination among NAC commissioners, co-ordination of NACs with other directorates of CBIC, pre-launch preparation of faceless assessment, conference on tariff and other measures, among others.
Notification has been issued to enable an assessing officer — who is physically located in a particular jurisdiction — to assess a Bill of entry pertaining to imports made at a different Customs station, whenever such a Bill of entry has been assigned to him in the Customs Automated System.

Another notification has also been issued by virtue of which the commissioners of Customs (appeals) are empowered to take up appeals filed in respect of ‘faceless assessments’ pertaining to imports made in their jurisdictions even though the ‘faceless assessment’ officer may be located at any other Customs station.

To ensure smooth implementation of the ‘faceless assessment’ initiative, the Directorate General of Taxpayer Services, in coordination with the Customs Policy Wing, will organise extensive outreaches via online webinars/promotional videos. The CBIC deserves appreciation for using available technology for efficient assessment and reducing the scope for corruption.

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