Customs officer hails traders as real heroes of economy at EXIM-23 summit

Gurkaran Singh Bains IRS, Commissioner Customs, Customs House Cochin, delivers a special address EXIM Summit 2023 at Hotel Le Meridien, Kochi on Friday. Photo: Manorama

Kochi: The trading community is the driving force of the economy and the government is promoting trade and commerce actively, Customs Commissioner Gurkaran Singh Bains said here on Friday. The Indian Revenue Service officer who assumed office at Customs House Cochin recently was addressing Exim Summit 2023, a one-day conference organised by the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry in association with Manorama QuicKerala.

“You people are the real heroes who are driving forward whatever positive things happening in the country for the growth of the Indian economy. It is your initiatives which drive all other organisations and the government revenue is increased in the process,” the officer told the gathering of exporters and importers and other stakeholders of the sector.  

“The government has also been very active in trade promotion because it is the ultimate panacea for all the illnesses of society and it is the only way for progress in the world,” he said. 

He said there has been a sea change in the facilitation of sea trade in the past few years. “A lot of things have been automated. The process has been simplified,” he said, citing the case of what is called ‘first check’ in Customs terminology.  

“If the Customs felt that something required a deeper look before being cleared it used to be referred for a first check. It used to be examined first and then assessed in the customs house. But now the government has zeroed in on the data as to what items were being ordered for a first check and rather than some person applying his mind taking some time and then referring it to the first check the system itself automatically refers the case to the respective officers to check the goods and send the result to the person who is supposed to assess it,” he explained. 

Challenges galore in port sector: Hibi Eden
Lok Sabha MP from Ernakulam, Hibi Eden, delivered the valedictory address. He said various industries have been facing different kinds of challenges relating to exports and imports and ports and container management.

Hibi Eden MP addresses valedictory session of EXIM Summit 2023 at Hotel Le Meridien, Kochi on Friday. (From left) V Venugopal, past president, Cochin Chamber; Anand Venkitraman, President of Cochin Chamber; S P Kamath, vice president, Cochin Chamber; and Joy Mathew, vice president (marketing services and solutions), Malayala Manorama look on. Photo: Manorama

He was also critical of the trade union activities that put land traders in trouble and financial losses. He cites the case of a small-time trader who has to pay a hectic amount to the Cochin Port in demurrage due to a dispute involving two trade unions. 

“The governments often make tall claims of ease of doing business. But unfortunately, we have not been able to resolve even a minor labour issue relating to the port,” he said. The Congress MP offered all support to the ex-im community in his capacity as a lawmaker and promised to ensure that their voice is heard in the parliament.  

Issues and concerns 
The summit themed “Bridging Borders: Unlocking EXIM potential” witnessed heated discussions on topics touching on various aspects of the exports and imports industries. A major theme of discussions was the issues and concerns of the community.  

Alex K Ninan, managing partner, Baby Marine International; P P Prakash, vice president, materials, Malayala Manorama; Anil Kumar Radhakrishnan, chief financial officer, Plant Lipids Pvt Ltd; and Joy Thattil Itoop, managing partner, Callidus Legal took part in a panel discussion on “issues and concerns of the exporters and importers. 

Pointing out that Kerala was being pushed back in the list of states in the marine exports sector, Ninan pointed out the need for promoting aquaculture in the state and also highlighted the need for improving value-addition in the production of seafood.  

K Harikumar, past president of Cochin Chamber & Managing Director of Travancore Cochin Chemicals & Malabar Cements Ltd moderated the session. 

Riyaz Khan, general manager, Nitta Gelatin India Ltd; Sunil Kumar Ayyappan, head - projects 

Adani Ports & SEZ Ltd; Vipin R Menoth, traffic manager, Cochin Port Authority; and Binu K S, president, Kerala Steamer Agents Association attended the session on ‘Opportunities in EXIM trade’. It was moderated by Anand Venkitraman, President of Cochin Chamber and CEO & whole-time director of Harrisons Malayalam Ltd. 

The third and final session discussed the need for a reduction in transaction costs. The participants were Sajan B Nair, secretary general, the Federation of Indian Coir Exporters Association; Tommy Thomas, secretary, Cochin Container Carrier Owners Welfare Association; Kiran B Nandre, director short-sea shipping & NVOCC Rhenus A&O India Pvt Ltd; R Rajesh Kumar, founder & director, Glo Shipping & Logistics Pvt Ltd.

Prakash Iyer, executive committee member of Cochin Chamber and general manager, Marine Container Services India Pvt Ltd moderated the session. Joy Mathew, vice president (marketing services and solutions), Malayala Manorama; S P  Kamath, vice president, Cochin Chamber and V Venugopal, past president, Cochin Chamber also spoke. 

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