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India: Govt to explore legal framework to make trade transactions mandatory through port community system

The Shipping Ministry is set to issue an order to make the port community system (PCS) mandatory for all Indian seaports, including public and private ports. The move is based on the recommendation of a 11-member panel set up at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in May this year to promote ease of doing business.

The panel headed by R K Agarwal, joint secretary (ports) in the Shipping Ministry, also recommended that a legal framework needs to be explored under various laws governing maritime trade stakeholders, to make it mandatory to carry out transactions through the PCS.

Mandating usage via a legal framework will ensure highly improved scores in ease of doing business, trade across borders and logistics performance index, the panel wrote in the report, a copy of which was reviewed by BusinessLine.

Portall, a logistics management application developed by Mumbai-based logistics conglomerate, J M Baxi Group, was awarded the contract by the Indian Ports’ Association, an autonomous body under the Shipping Ministry, to roll out a pan-India Port Community System (PCS) by December.

Portal PCS
Portall PCS will on-board all maritime stakeholders including major/non-major ports, container freight stations, inland container depots, inland waterways, coastal shipping, empty yards, freight forwarders, ship chandlers, bunker suppliers, non-vessel owning common carriers, director-general of lighthouses and light ships and the Federation of Indian Logistics Association, to help end-to-end trade transactions. Necessary technological changes must be made by all ports and other stakeholders to enable real-time information exchange with the PCS, it said.

Portall has been asked to include, either through development or as a latch on, other functionalities such as transportation solution/ vehicle booking system for better vehicle planning to reduce congestion at ports, booking (cargo, containers, vessel slot), market place for goods and services to be taken up in association with the planned National Trade Portal, multi-modal shipments – Railways (container train operations, general cargo booking), coastal/inland waterways, single point for dues collection as the PCS will act as a payment aggregator gateway, thereby saving time, effort and money for stakeholders and quick settlement of transactions, international linkages with shipping lines, maritime registers as well as track and trace.

Portall said it is working with global cargo booking systems such as INTTRA for incorporation in the PCS workflow as a latch-on facility.

Customs should consider the PCS as a nodal platform to deal with all maritime stakeholders for exchange of messages with ICEGATE, the committee has recommended.

A pilot project will be undertaken at Visakhapatnam Port Trust to test API-based transactions between PCS and ICEGATE as the Customs has initiated the process of upgrading ICEGATE for real-time data exchange.

As the Portall PCS is scalable and flexible and offers multiple models of integration, technological innovations currently available along with the capability to load new functionalities and features identified at a later stage, the panel was of the view that the plan to develop a version 2 of PCS “may be put on hold and taken up after three years, if required”.

The committee also recommended integration of the proposed Single Window Interface for Facilitation of Trade (SWIFT) system of Customs with PCS “to achieve a true single window”.
Source: The Hindu BusinessLine

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