Un-updated RAMIS impede efficiency at Phuentsholing MDP

Un-updated RAMIS impede efficiency at Phuentsholing MDP

Truckers complain that they have to wait long for clearing customs

Drivers ferrying goods from India to the Phuentsholing Mini Dry Port (MDP) are a frustrated lot because of the time taken for clearing customs after the e-Custom Management System (e-CMS) was implemented with effect from April 11, 2023.  However, officials from the e-CMS team in Phuntsholing say that the time taken for registration is not due to the system but because of the un-updated RAMIS.

According to drivers, it takes more than four hours to clear customs for a single vehicle. One of the truck drivers, Tshering Wangdi said that they are not very clear with the new system. He said that the online registration is “consuming time,” adding that sometimes food items, which should be delivered within a short span of time, get damaged.

He said that drivers have to show numbers of authorized letters and those failing to do so are not allowed to enter Bhutan.  Truckers also complained that sometimes officials say the systems are down. “I feel that it is necessary to have a back up,” Tshering said, adding that “Digital system would always be better.” 

Another pick and delivery driver, Rinchen shared that concerned individuals have to submit Taxpayer Number (TPN) of registered taxpayers, email addresses and tax clearances which many of the drivers are not used to.

“It is inconvenient when a single cargo has to carry goods of many importers,” he said.  However, Rinchen said that it would be more convenient when drivers become used to the new registration system.

Unhappy with the implementation of e-CMS, one driver carrying imported goods said it is hampering the delivery business, as the time taken is long.

Another goods transporter from India, Tshewang said that he is not happy with the new system at MDP. He shared that with the requirements of many documents, it has complicated their work.

He said that the consignment vehicles have to wait long in India for custom clearance, adding drivers have to wait for a long time at the MDP. The transporter shared that there are different kinds of importers; some are uneducated. In between, “drivers are tortured,” he added. “I wish that we are allowed to enter Bhutan,” Tshewang expressed.

Meanwhile, an official from the e-CMS team in Phuntsholing said that the issue is not due to the system but because of un-updated RAMIS.

The official said there is every reason for the truckers and transporters to be unhappy. However, they do not understand why goods owners are not happy. The officials help drivers to call owners and update the details to the extent of resetting the password and generating OTP.

The e-CMS team pointed out that the importers fail to get clearances despite the presence of many clearance agents. They also said that the new system in deed will shorten the clearance time as it has provision to integrate with other systems; like forestry and Bhutan Food and Drug Authority, thus ensuring access to permit.

The Department of Revenue and Customs issued a notification on 4 and 27 April this year to all the agencies/department and ministries that the Electronic Customs Management System (e-CMS) will be implemented with effect from 11 April 2023 across all the Southern Regional Revenue and Customs Offices, checkpoints, border checkpoints, Airport and Entry and Exit Points manned by the Customs.

This was implemented to provide seamless and undisrupted services to the agencies/department and ministries who wish to import, export and transit goods across the international borders. The concerned agencies, departments, and importers were requested to update the TPN in the RAMIS. This is required in order to push the registration details from RAMIS to e-CMS.

The new system is a facilitation of tax payment at exits and entries to ease transit of consignments.

Bhutan became a member of World Customs Organization (WCO) in 2002 and the DRC is piloting the taxation modules of the WCO. From the 15-20 tax modules, DRC in Phuentsholing is piloting four to five modules. The full modules will be rolled out by June this year according to the e-CMS team.

The WCO stimulates the growth of legitimate international trade to combat fraudulent activities recognized internationally. It also builds bridges between Customs administrations and their partners. It promotes the emergence of an honest, transparent and predictable Customs environment, directly contributing to the economic and social well-being of its members.

Additionally, in an international environment characterized by instability and the ever-present threat of terrorist activity, the mission of WCO is to enhance the protection of society and the national territory, and to secure and facilitate international trade.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu