Following the demonetisation of high-value currency notes, foreign passengers arriving at Kolkata airport can now pay customs duty through cashless transactions. Customs officials initiated the move after complaints from passengers who were left with no options to obtain cash. “These notes were exchangeable at airports, but within 70 hours after the notification. Those coming from foreign countries were left with no option, and hence it was the perfect time for us to introduce the system,” said an official.
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Passengers will now be able to pay customs duty through their debit or credit card. The amount will be deducted and credited to a “buffer account”.
“It’s a joint initiative by State Bank of India and customs department. It’s a current account in the name of the Principal Commissioner of Customs (Airport). Earlier, there was no online payment of customs duty. This new system will not only help us during this period, but will make the entire process smoother,” Deputy Commissioner of Customs (Airport) Umesh Kumar said.
As per data obtained by The Indian Express, about 8,41,000 passengers paid customs duty at Kolkata airport in October, resulting in a total amount of Rs 1,22,70,770. From the start of this month till November 10, 476 passengers have paid Rs 64,75,511 as customs duty.
“Most passengers apart from regular flyers who shop abroad don’t have much expertise on what could land them in trouble. Many passengers seek information on customs clearance once they are stopped by officials. We have an app where people can get details about customs clearance,” said another official.
It was announced that people will be able to use Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes at government hospitals, government bus stands, railway stations and airports, but only for 72 hours.
“We had been working on this concept for about a month. Mostly passenger carry limited cash. This had been bothering us for long. Coincidentally, this system has been implemented at a time when ATMs do not have enough cash. We are content that we will win over the crisis,” said senior customs official.