Clearance delay hits business at Chennai port
By C Shivakumar - CHENNAI
27th November 2012 08:38 AM
The Chennai port is at the risk of losing business due to alleged delay by plant quarantine officials in giving clearance to consignments from Chennai port, according to exporters.
Exporters who have been hit by the delay told City Express that plant quarantine department, which gives phytosantary certificate (PSC) to agricultural products, including timber, exported from India and a clearance certificate for the same products imported into India, are now taking three days to issue the certificate, which is resulting in huge loss.
The loss has resulted in exporters shifting their focus to smaller ports like Thoothkudi and Krisnapatnam to get faster clearances.
“Most of the importers and exporters are suffering because of the procedure delays in getting the clearance from the plant quarantine department and if this condition prevails, financially most of the exporters and shipping agents will go out of business,” warned a member of Maize Export Association Chennai, on condition of anonymity.
He said perishable commodities have to be cleared on the same day and also when import consignment arrive at the port, it takes a lot of time for the plant quarantine officer to clear the consignment. Another member from the association said that demurrage, the penalty for exceeding time allowed for taking delivery of a shipment from the shipping or transporting company’s warehouse, is high and the entire business results in huge loss for importers.
He said that while export consignments reach Malaysia within three days’ time, a phytosanitary certificate is issued only three days after the inspection.
Interestingly, just prior to a CBI raid at Plant Quarantine department recently, the consignments were cleared within a day, but now after the raid, it is taking more time.
The exporters feel that the reason is due to lack of transparency in the functioning of the department as they are forced to pay bribes to get it cleared quickly. Even though an online system exists, it is complicated,” alleges Krubakaran, an exporter.
“Despite the online process, an agent has to go to the Plant Quarantine department office to pay fees and to know the position of the application and the name of the officer who will be visiting the container freight station for inspection,” he said. Export organisations also rue the lack of fixing the responsibility for the delay on plant quarantine official. “When the online invoice is created, it should mention the name of the official who is responsible for inspection and the time when it will be conducted. Now, nobody knows who will inspect the consignment and when.” Stressing the need for a 24x7 office of plant quarantine department in Chennai port as well as other Container Freight Stations, the exporters felt this will cut short the delay.
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