It will soon be difficult for duty evaders to smuggle goods into the country through parcels.
The courier cell of the Customs Department at the international airport from where parcels are imported and exported will be computerised in the next few months that will help the authorities pick up suspicious consignments.
The courier cell is the largest source of revenue at the airport.
Couriers, involving gifts and samples of up to Rs 10,000 value, are exempted from duty when sent into the country from abroad. Other than these, the imports are dutiable.
However, authorities suspect that the duty evaders split the import materials and bring them in smaller quantities keeping the same within the limit of Rs 10,000 to avoid paying any duty. “They mark the import as gift or sample so that they get exemption,” a Customs official said.
He added that because in the present system the details are maintained in manual record books, it is difficult to follow the trend and catch culprits. “Once it is computerised, we would be able to easily check all the previous details of suspicious imports,” the official said.
He said that after computerisation, all the information about a courier — whether it was gift, sample or import, would be stored in the system. “It will also have details of recipient of the gifts or samples and also the importer,” the official said.
The system will help find if any importer was playing mischief by importing goods in smaller quantities, he added.
Commissioner of Customs, Airport, P.M. Govande, said the computerisation process will include “management information system” which will plug duty evasion.
“The officers at the courier cell will be able to observe the pattern if an importer is splitting the parcels to bring the cost limit within Rs 10,000,” said Govande.
The bills of entries, for clearing goods, will have to be filed online. The courier companies will also have to change their software as they will directly be filling bills of entries online and the same would be connected to the department’s system.
Govande said the automation will also help increase revenue as duty evasion would be plugged.
During the recently concluded financial year (2009-2010), the revenue earned from courier cell was around Rs 200 crore. The target for 2010-2011 is Rs 262 crore.