The Indian Finance Minister presented today (29th of February) the Finance Budget for the year 2016-17. The Budget, which usually brings into force various tax proposals of the government for the next year, has brought some important changes in the Customs regime bringing some relief to the importers and exporters.

Deferred payment of Customs duties

Customs Act, 1962 is proposed to be amended to provide for deferred payment of customs duties for certain class of importers and exporters. Clauses 118 and 119 of the Finance Bill 2016 propose to amend Sections 47 and 51 of the Customs Act in this regard. Class of importers and exporters has to be specified by the government by way of notification, which it seems would be issued once these provisions are brought into force after enactment of the Bill.

Exemption effective from date of issue

Provisions relating to exemption are proposed to be amended to omit the requirement of publishing and offering for sale any notification issued by the CBEC. The new provision states that notification, unless otherwise provided, would come into force on the date of issue by the Central Government for publication. The new provision puts to rest certain disputes where the notifications, though issued by the government, were not published and made available for sale. Recent decision by the Supreme Court the case of Param Industries can be cited in this regard.

Warehousing

Various Sections contained in Chapter IX of the Customs Act are proposed to be amended by Clauses 121 to 134 of the Finance Bill, broadly amending provisions of the Customs law relating to warehousing. While provisions have been proposed to add new class of warehouses for enabling storage of specific goods under physical control of the department, provisions for payment of fees to Customs for manufacturing facility under bond, are being omitted. However, now (from the date of enactment of the Bill) permission would be required from Principal Commissioner of Customs or Commissioner of Customs in this regard. Hitherto, sanction of Assistant/Deputy Commissioner was required for the said purpose.

Interest for delayed payment of duty, reduced

Interest payable by the importers/exporters on delay in payment of duty has been reduced to 15%. Notification No. 33/2016-Cus. (N.T.) has been issued in this regard to supersede Notification No. 17/2011-Cus. (N.T.) which prescribed 18% rate of interest in such cases.