Business Times

Customs to open Green Channel for 75 companies

By Sunimalee Dias

Sri Lanka Customs will recommence Green Channel examination at the Colombo port for 75 selected local companies as and when approvals are provided, authorities said. This is essential to importers who face upto Rs.500 million in costs annually that is added to imported goods for delays at the terminals.

Based on a Treasury request to provide the Green Channel examination for local companies, initially 10% will be approved in the wake of a post war era, Sri Lanka Customs Additional Director General Ajantha Dias told the Business Times on Tuesday. It was pointed out that Sri Lanka Customs would provide approval for Green Channel Examination only based on the company’s good record; absence of any records of previous customs related offense; and if the company complies with local requirements.

However, certain items like those that require quarantine; where health conditions need to be met; customs regulations; atomic energy authority related concerns; and perishables will not be released without the required checks carried out on them, Mr. Dias said adding that this also applies to goods requiring the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) standards.

This system will allow for the easing of congestion at the Colombo port where nearly all containers are examined thoroughly at present, according to Customs House Agents and Wharf Assistants Association Chairman M.S.M. Niyas.

Today all 28,000 TEUs in a month are examined of which 18,000 TEU's are examined at Rank Container Terminal alone. But it was noted that while authorities intend on using an automated system, the industry pointed out that while there are a number of dynamics involved in the assessment of the products a manual check would prove to be a better procedure though.

Mr. Dias also noted that they will be providing this facility to about 10% of the companies that will be gradually increased upto 80%. But, authorities observe that they should be able to check on the records of these companies whenever required.

Currently, regulations are in place where checks are carried out under the Amber and Red channel where almost all documentation is also looked into, Mr. Dias explained. But, after the new facility is provided, these companies will not have to produce any of their documentation either to be checked, he said.

Once this measure is adopted, it was pointed out that authorities will be able to then concentrate on detailed examinations. Sri Lanka Customs commenced its automated system since 1994 when it started to release cargo without examination through the Green Channel. But in 2007/2008 with the intensification of the war in the country and due to the security purposes authorities commenced the Amber channel examination.

Commenting on the work carried out at the Hambantota port it was stated that the same procedure would be adopted even as in Colombo. Mr. Dias observed that right now only a few vessels are calling at the Hambantota port and there is not much of a difference in this respect as everything is being examined.

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