Mumbai, Aug. 6. While revised specifications for imported crude palm oiland its fractions (including crude palmolein) have been stipulated by theGovernment to put an end to suspect imports without actually banning them,notification number 120/2003 has generated some uncertainty amongimporters whose consignments are already on way.
Importers of crude olein in particular are unsure about how the cargo willbe assessed on arrival.
Their main concern seems to be whether the revised specifications will beapplied to goods already in transit or in bonded warehouse here. Acrossports, several thousand tons of cargo (some estimate it at 40,000 to50,000 tons) are in bonded warehouse, pending clearance.
Some are wondering whether a load port analysis certificate will beaccepted to facilitate provisional assessment backed by a 'Test Bond' tobe followed up with testing at Customs laboratory before final assessment.
Speaking to Business Line, Mr Jayant Lapsia, president of All-India LiquidBulk Import Export Association, said he had already sought theintervention of revenue officials to facilitate smooth clearance ofimported cargoes, particularly in view of the impending festival season.
In a representation to the Customs department, the association hasdemanded that the practice of obtaining PHO (Port Health Organisation)certificate of quality be dispensed with in case of crude oils of ediblegrade so that clearances were expedited.
Citing a recent letter from the Director General of Health Services, MrLapsia said testing of imported crude oils should be restricted to Customslaboratory and no testing needed to done at laboratory designated by thePHO as crude oils have to be mandatorily refined before being sold fordirect human consumption.
The association has also suggested that in view of the latestnotification, all provisional assessments of previous imports should befinalised and bank guarantees and bonds executed by importers should bereturned duly cancelled.
Meanwhile, stung by the change in specification and in the absence of anattractive differential in Customs duty between crude and refined palmoils, major importers - most of them have set up massive refiningfacilities in different parts of the country - have decided to approachthe Government for relief.
Their thrust is expected to be a dilution in the current specificationsfor crude olein, and building a differential between the Customs duties ofcrude and refined palm oil, which will make crude oil imports profitable.
Whether the Government will accede to their demand remains to be seen.