In a first, the Union Government is conducting a nationwide survey to identify delay points in the cargo movement. The exercise to identify bottlenecks and their removal is supposed to expedite the cargo movement and escalate the trade.

The survey is being conducted simultaneously across 15 ports — sea, air, land and dry — that account for 81% of bills of entries for import and 67% of shipping bills for export. From August 1 to August 7, surveys were conducted for sea port and inland container depots. For air cargo, the survey will be conducted in the first week of September.

The nationwide survey will look at causes of delays in movement of consignment caused by regulatory constraints, logistical issues in supply chains, or lack of infrastructure. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), under the Department of Revenue, is carrying out the survey.

A government official said, “In most cases, it is not the regulatory framework that causes delay but logistical and infrastructural issues. So far, our action has been directed only towards regulatory issues such as food safety and quarantine, but this study will broaden our efforts.”

An insight study had revealed only 20-25% of the total time taken for cargo movement is consumed in regulatory processes.

Infrastructure issues such as storage space constraints, lack of connecting roads, and traffic congestion add to the time taken for cargo movement.

The government wishes to identify and remove these with policy improvement. It also wants to see if there are logistical issues such as rail and terminal operations, besides cases of importers not paying dues to shipping lines.

According to World Bank standards, sea consignments must get cleared within 48 hours and air consignments within 24 hours. On an average, India takes 105 hours for cargo clearance.