The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) declared the 1st phase of All India roll-out of Faceless Assessment, on Friday. Through Circular No.09/2019-Customs, dated February 28, 2019,the Board shared its decision to implement the next generation reforms in the Customs clearance process under Turant Customs in a bid to vouch for speedy clearance, transparency in decision making, and ease of doing business.
“The Board has decided to begin Faceless Assessment in phases beginning with Customs stations which already have the experience of the pilot programs. Therefore, the first phase would begin from 8th June 2020 at Bengaluru and Chennai for items of imports primarily covered by Chapters 84 and 85 of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975. The phased rollout plan envisages that Faceless Assessment shall be the norm pan India by 31st December 2020,” the CBIC circular said.
The Board brought about numerous changes to the Customs clearance process, which together support Turant Customs. These include the self-registration of goods by importers, automated clearances of bills of entry, digitization of customs documents, paperless clearance, etc.
“The stage was now set for the roll-out of the most critical reform under the Turant Customs viz., Faceless Assessment,” the circular said.
The Board is now ready to launch Faceless Assessment pan India.
The circular further clarified that Faceless Assessment being a complete departure from the existing manner of Customs assessment, there arose a need to introduce the changes in phases which would give the trade and other stakeholders (including the Customs officers) time to adapt to the changed scenario without any disruption of work.
The main objective of the Faceless Assessment was speedy and uniform assessment practices, in Phase 1 of Faceless Assessment.
The circular further stated, “Board hereby nominates Principal Commissioner/Commissioner of Customs, Bengaluru City, Bengaluru, Principal Commissioner/Commissioner of Customs, Airport and Air Cargo Complex, Bengaluru, Principal Commissioner/Commissioner of Customs (II), Chennai and Principal Commissioner/Commissioner of Customs (VII), Air Cargo Complex Chennai to act as nodal Commissioners for the purpose of administratively monitoring the assessment practice in respect of imported goods which are assigned in the Customs Automated System to the officers of the Faceless Assessment Groups in Bengaluru and Chennai, for articles primarily falling under Chapters 84 and 85, of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975.”
The nodal Commissioners will work in a coordinated manner, and such an arrangement would pave the way to instituting National Assessment Commissionerates (NACs) with the mandate to examine the assessment practices of imported articles across Customs stations and suggest measures to bring about uniformity and enhanced quality of assessments, as per the circular.
“The NACs would be put in place as and when Faceless Assessment is rolled out in phases across the country,” the circular further clarified.
Concerned Principal Chief Commissioners/ Chief Commissioners would be responsible for setting up dedicated cells called Turant Suvidha Kendras, in every Customs station manned by customs officers to perform varied functions and roles.
Further details about the functions, roles, location and timing would be notified by the local Customs administration to all the stakeholders.