Customs, regulatory issues create roadblocks in port logistics: report

13 February 2018

A report submitted by consultants Dun and Broadstreet brings out various challenges that create roadblocks in the port logistics sector across ports in India and suggests policy recommendations to resolve the issues.

The report handed over to minister of commerce and industry Suresh Prabhu flags five issues, namely port congestion, customs clearance (including scanning and ICEGATE), shipping line issues and charges, documentation and paperwork, and regulatory clearance as the most common problems across ports in the country.

The report, commissioned by the commerce and industry ministry, points out that issues like delay in customs clearance (including scanning and ICEGATE), shipping line issues and charges, documentation and paperwork, and regulatory clearance constitute 80 per cent of the total issues causing detention and demurrage.

According to the report, there is a need to standardise processes and operations across ports.

Costs and time for key processes are unpredictable and there is an unacceptable level of variation across ports as well as within port, the report pointed out, adding that several government initiatives taken need to be followed through to completion.

To achieve a target of 5 per cent share in world exports, India's exports need to grow at an average rate of over 26 per cent for the next five years. This would require increasing its product competitiveness. Enhancing product competitiveness in the global market needs infrastructure for trade to improve, and ports are a critical part of trade infrastructure, the report pointed out.

The study encapsulates key issues and challenges and also proposes 60 policy measures to strengthen the ports sector, which represents the bulk of India's merchandise trade .The study introduces a 'Port Performance Index' as an attempt to benchmark performance of various ports by combining qualitative perception of stakeholders with quantitative outcome based data.

Covering 13 ports, which handle around 67 per cent of India's maritime trade, and engaging with 700 respondents pan India, comprising government officials, trade associations, exporters / importers, cargo handling agents and freight forwarders. Feedback was collected from these stakeholders on both qualitative and quantitative aspects of business transactions at ports.

The scope of the study, however, is limited to container and bulk cargo handled at these ports and does not cover liquid cargo.

Of the 13 major ports the study assigns three ports - JNPT, Kamarajar and Vizag - a 'Good' score; seven ports - Cochin, Kandla, Paradip, Chennai, Mormugao, New Mangalore and VOC; an 'Average' score and three ports - Haldia, Kolkata and MbPT - a 'Poor' score.

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