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Customs sleuths on alert to prevent import of fake medicines

Date: 06-04-2020
Subject: Customs sleuths on alert to prevent import of fake medicines
HYDERABAD: To make sure that organised crime networks don't supply fake medicines and other equipment for Covid-19 treatment, sleuths from the Customs department are keeping a close watch on the imports of medicines, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and related items. 

Customs officials, also want to keep the supply chain intact during the lockdown, therefore they are clearing all cargo - both essential and non essential items - on a priority basis at the Inland Container Depots in Sanathnagar and Air Cargo Terminal in Shamshabad.

Recently, M Ajit Kumar, chairman of Central Board  of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), had written to the staff asking them to ensure 24x7 customs clearance for smooth supply of essential goods and services. “While making every possible effort to facilitate legitimate trade, frontline officers need to be vigilant to thwart potential vulnerabilities in international supply chain including counterfeit medicines, Personal Protection Equipment and related items. As stated by WCO  (World Customs Organisation), criminal organisations have turned this global pandemic into an opportunity to carry out their fraudulent activities,” he stated. 

“In the wake of Covid-19, there is going to be import of medicines, test kits, ventilators, masks and PPEs in the future. Our job is to ensure no counterfeits or spurious items enter the country,” said a Customs official. 

Due to the lockdown, cargo transportation work at Air Cargo Terminal and Inland Container Depot (ICD) had almost came to a naught. However, under the supervision of Mallika Arya, chief commissioner of GST& Customs Hyderabad Zone, officials started coordinating with the Telangana police and movement of cargo started from ICD and Air Cargo. 

Among the most relevant items that landed at ICD are 120 units of ventilators from USA. Apart from ventilators, items like, iron scrap, waste paper, transformers lamination, amorphous ribbon, soda ash, organic chemicals and electronic equipment, mostly from China, also arrived at Air Cargo and ICD. 

However, Covid-19 has made an impact on the revenue of Hyderabad Customs. In 2018-19 financial year, from Basic Customs Duty (BCD) and Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST), Rs 1482 crore and Rs 3082 crore revenue was generated in Hyderabad GST & Customs Zone. Though the target was Rs 5000 crore for the financial year 2019-20, Customs and GST departments were able to collect only Rs 1258 crore CBD and Rs 2869 crore IGST. 

”The main difference was in the month of March. In March 2019, Rs 223 crore CBD and Rs 1772 core IGST was collected and in March 2020 Rs 49 CBD and Rs 150 crore IGST was collected,” said a source from the Customs department. 

Source:- timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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