Faceless Assessment -Measures for timely assessment of Bills of Entry and clarification on defacement of physical documents

Faceless Assessment -Measures for timely assessment of Bills of Entry and clarification on defacement of physical documents

Circular No. 45/2020-Customs

F. No. 450/26/2019-Cus. IV(Pt)
Government of India
Ministry of Finance
Department of Revenue
(Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs)
Room No.227B, North Block. New Delhi,
dated 12th of October, 2020
All Principal Chief Commissioners/ Chief Commissioners of Customs/ Customs (Preventive),
All Principal Chief Commissioners/ Chief Commissioners of Customs & Central tax,
All Principal Commissioners/ Commissioners of Customs/ Customs (Preventive),
All Principal Commissioners/ Commissioners of Customs & Central tax,
All Principal Director Generals/ Director Generals under CBIC.

Subject: Faceless Assessment -Measures for timely assessment of Bills of Entry and clarification on defacement of physical documents -reg.

Reference is invited to CBIC Circular No. 40/2020-Customs, dated 04.09.2020 stipulating the rollout schedule for implementation of Faceless Assessment pan India by 31.10.2020. The CBIC Circulars No. 28/2020-Customs, dated 05.06.2020, No. 34/2020-Customs, dated 30.07.2020 as well as Instruction No. 09/2020-Customs, dated 05.06.2020 related to Faceless Assessment may also be kindly referred to.
2. Board has reviewed the implementation of Faceless Assessment. While the implementation has been largely smooth, Board’s attention has been drawn to some issues impacting the pace of assessment and clearances of consignments. As the prompt and timely assessment of Bills of Entry and clearance of imported consignments are key objectives of , these issues have been examined and remedial measures have been identified. Accordingly, Board prescribes the following measures for Faceless Assessment:

2.1.Continuous Assessment:

(i) There may be possible delays in assessment when Bills of Entry (B/E) are assigned to FAGs in locations that are on an official holiday or when assessment is to be done on a closed holiday (say, Sunday). Further, time sensitive goods such as life-saving drugs or imports by security/defence and other Government agencies would require prompt Customs clearance at all times including outside the normal office hours. Hence, it is decided to make all Saturdays (except second Saturday) as working day for all the faceless assessment groups across the country. Further, it is desired that the Co-Convenors of the NACs must co-ordinate with the NACs for ensuring expedited assessment by the FAGs/PAGs across different zones so there is no delay in assessment and Customs clearance during holidays at all or some locations. In this direction, the Co-Convenors of the NACs may get the NACs to draw up official rosters among FAGs/PAGs so as to have adequate number of officers, depending on the volume of B/Es, working on Sundays and other holidays including second saturdays. The number of locations, officers and their working timing can be fixed keeping in mind the overall objectives.
To illustrate, in NAC for Primary products, the Co-Conveners may ensure that adequate number of FAG officers in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai II and Guwahati (or any combination thereof), as deemed fit, may work during the holidays. The rosters may be drawn from amongst the FAGs so that the work is distributed evenly. It is clarified that the intention is not that all FAGs would work on all holidays, but that adequate number of FAG officers should be available, by rotation, so that assessment is not delayed.
(ii) The Port of Import should monitor clearance of time-sensitive/urgent consignments such as lifesaving drugs, security/defence related consignments etc. imported by Government and its agencies/PSUs etc. so that these are not delayed. When required, the Port of Import should coordinate their early assessment with NAC concerned and then grant quick clearance. The trade may also abcaus.in be advised to indicate end use of such consignments in the B/E for easier identification of such consignments. DG Systems will facilitate this by enabling a dashboard alerting the officers if such consignments are pending beyond 4hours. This dashboard would be accessible to both PAG and FAG.
(iii) DG Systems has enabled dashboards for monitoring of pending FAGB/E, their disposal, and other relevant reports. These dashboards are required to be pro-actively utilised by the NAC/PAG and Principal Commissioners/Commissioners in charge of the Port of Import. The NAC Commissioners shall ensure that the B/Es are assessed and disposed promptly and monitor this via the dashboard for a particular Appraising Group. Likewise, the Principal Commissioner/Commissioner in charge of the Port of Import shall monitor the disposal of the B/E pending with the PAG and at the stage of examination for their timely disposal. When required, the Principal Commissioner/Commissioner in charge of the Port of Import shall co-ordinate with the NAC Commissioners for prompt disposal of pending B/Es pertaining to his/her Port of Import.
(iv)One of the five Working Groups established under the NACs is responsible for timely assessments including resolving related IT issues. In the event of increase in the pendency for a particular NAC/FAG, the NAC Commissioners heading this Working Group shall take urgent measures for co-ordination with other NAC Commissioners/DG Systems for early disposal and/or resolution of the issues.

2.2.Raising of Queries by FAG Officers:

(i) There is a need to ensure that queries are minimized to the extent absolutely necessary for carrying out the assessment. Board therefore directs the NACs to get the analysis done in respect of the queries being raised on commodities pertaining to Chapters/Articles under the Customs Tariff Act, 1975and while weeding out avoidable queries, to the extent possible standardize the queries across Customs formations. This would also pave the path for incorporating these standard queries in the CCR instructions centrally inserted by RMD. This exercise should be completed by 23.10.2020 and the results indicating queries removed and queries standardized sent to Joint Secretary, Customs, CBIC. Based on this exercise, the NACs are also requested to have Public Notices/Trade Notices issued by Jurisdictional Principal Commissioners/ Commissioners to apprise the trade about the details/information needed for the assessment, thereby obviating the need to raise queries and resultantly reduce the time for clearance. A copy of the Public Notices/Trade Notices should be sent to Joint Secretary, Customs, CBIC.
(ii) Queries should not be raised in piecemeal manner and to the extent possible multiple and repeat queries are to be avoided. The jurisdictional Principal Commissioners/Commissioners shall regularly monitor and review the queries to ensure this. In this regard reference may also be made to Circular No. 22/2015-Customs, dated 03.09.2015 directing that genuine clarifications sought by officers from importers/exporters are to be raised at one go and not in a piecemeal manner.
(iii) Trade needs to be sensitised/informed to/of the advantages of providing at the first instance only, the complete details and description of the commodity, brand name, model and any other specifications essential for the assessment. Further, trade may be asked to upload at the first instance only, supporting documents like product/technical literature and mandatory documents, certificates, which would help avoid queries and delays. It is also noticed that at times, the documents are uploaded on e-Sanchit but are not linked to B/E, leading to a situation where Appraising/Assessing officer is unable to view the document and is thus compelled to raise a query. The trade needs to be advised to avoid such situation by linking every uploaded document to the relevant B/E. Suitable Public Notices/Trade Notices may be issued accordingly. The step by step guide in this regard is available at https://www.icegate.gov.in/Download/ICES_Advisory_35_2020_on_amendment_and_query_reply_with_supp_docs_v2.pdf.
(iv) Some instances have been noticed, where confirmation of compliance to prohibitions and restrictions are being sought during assessment including submission of certain certificates, details etc. leading to delay in the assessment. It is clarified that the verification of statutory compliances is to be checked only during Customs Compliance Verification (CCV) stage at the Port of Import. While Appraising/Assessment officer can make a suitable remark in the system for such verification by the Port of Import, the B/E shall not be kept pending for assessment. The Working Group on Prohibitions/Restrictions are advised to identify the item wise CCV requirements for uniformity in the FAG and also communicate the same to RMCC for their central enforcement. Once this is done, the Appraising/Assessment officer would no longer need to insert a remark to this effect in the system.

2.3. Resorting to First Checks:

(i) Upon review of the practice of the FAG officers resorting to First Check, it is clear that this practice needs to be streamlined both for purposes of uniformity across the country and different FAGs and also to address associated delays in assessment. Board has thus identified the following imports/situations where First Check (this term as well as the term Second Check is being used as it is well known in the field and trade) shall ordinarily be resorted to by the FAG officers for carrying out assessment:
(a) Old and used machinery/capital goods provided the Inspection/Appraisement report from the country of export is not available in the format prescribed or is not produced at all or is insufficient as per Circular No.07/2020-Customs, dated 05.02.2020.
(b) Old and used goods where the examination is essential to determine valuation, classification, and other parameters. This does not include the cases covered under 2ndproviso to Section 46(1) of the Customs Act, 1962.
(c) Articles of jewellery, precious metals, imitation jewellery where valuation must be ascertained by a jewellery expert.
(d) Cases of re-import of goods under various exemption notification, which requires establishment of identity to the satisfaction of Deputy Commissioner/Assistant Commissioner of Customs.
(ii) Further, the NAC must review and streamline the examination orders/instructions in cases pertaining to para 2.3 (i) (a) to (d) above, to avoid divergent practices. NACs shall send the compilation of such streamlined orders/Instructions to Joint Secretary (Customs) latest by 23.10.2020. The same shall be forwarded to RMCC for incorporating the same as a part of RMS Instructions.
(iii) On receipt of such compilation, RMCC in co-ordination with DG Systems shall effect changes in the system such that, those cases which are determined for verification under First Check are routed directly to the shed with RMS generated examination orders thus obviating the requirement of a FAG officer at this initial juncture in the flow of B/E. Based on the examination report, the B/E would be assigned to FAG for completion of the assessment.
(iv) All other instances, including the FOC (Free of Charge) and temporary import consignments, must ordinarily be resorted to only Second Check. However, in the exceptional instance when the FAG has genuine reasons to believe that a First Check examination report is required for completion of assessment i.e., determination of valuation, classification, rate of duty, and other parameters relevant for determination of Customs duty, the same may be ordered only with the approval of Joint Commissioner/Additional Commissioner in the Customs Automated System. It is clarified that this would include the cases where importer himself requests for First Check.
(v) NAC would on fortnightly basis review First Checks ordered with the approval of Joint Commissioner/Additional Commissioner to assess if the same can either be avoided altogether or made a part of the standard RMS Examination Order generated by RMCC or converted to Second Check. These instances would be required to be informed to Joint Secretary (Customs), CBIC for further action. (v)Where an importer requests First Check on a regular basis, the FAG officers and the NAC must take due care that this request is genuine and is not being routinely used to avoid self-assessment.

2.4.Role of RMCC/LRMin Facilitation:

2.5.Re-assessment of B/E:

2.6.Certificate of Origin

2.7.Grievance Redressal:


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