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Customs revises online shoppers’ rules

Customs revises online shoppers’ rules

NEW DELHI: The Customs & Excise Division has started to clamp down on courier service operators who have not been presenting invoices so that their goods could be correctly assesed for duties and taxes.

A week ago two businesses were fined $50,000 after customs officials discovered they had undervalued items brought into the port.

Comptroller of Customs Raju Boddu told OBSERVER media the imposition of the fine came as the authorities seek prevent offending firms from abusing the system.

“Our internal revenue system found out that something was wrong with these courier services because they have all these advertisements telling people they will not have to pay Customs duties, just pay by the pound, which is ridiculous. So it is an on-going review,” Boddu said.

The comptroller said under the new system, courier operators now have to present an invoice and a bill of sale for every item been cleared at the port and they are required to pay duties relating to the value of the item.

He said prior to this, they were charged based on estimation by the Custom officer on duty.

“We have seen weakness in the original system, where there was no way of verifying if what they are saying was true, because they were not presenting the original documents. So, we said, no, all that will have to stop. They will now have to present all evidence of transactions in the form of receipts and other documentation,” the Custom boss said.

He said with the new measures, everyone will be placed on a level playingfield.

Store merchants have, for years, complained that online shopping is threatening the survival of traditional retailers as customers are no longer supporting local businesses.

But the operator of a popular courier service said the changes will have serious implications for the thriving sector and his business.

The businessman, who did not wish to be named, said he will now have to spend a longer time at the port to clear patrons’ goods.

“I use to spend a few hours clearing things at the port, over the past few days I have spent five hours over a three-day period to clear items,” the man said.

He further claimed the main offenders are “up and coming people” who are trying to make a quick buck by advertising cheaper rates for online shoppers.