Government of India
Ministry of Finance
Department of Revenue
ELECTRONIC DATA INTERCHANGE
What is EDI
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is generically defined as the computer-to-computer exchange of business information through standard interfaces. It can also be interpreted as transmission of business data between organizations in a computerized format that does not require the re keying of information. Since EDI is defined as the exchange of electronic documents between organizations, the EDI acronym has also been sometimes interpreted as Electronic Document Interchange.
EDI is a central portion
of the overall concept of Electronic Commerce (EC). Electronic Commerce is
defined as the paperless exchange of business information. In addition to EDI,
electronic commerce uses other electronic means of business communication such
as electronic mail (E-mail), computer bulletin boards, FAX systems, and
Electronic Funds Transfer (ETF).
One of the greatest
advantages of EDI is its ability to reduce the cost and time required for
reproducing information that the Exporters / Importers used to furnish on paper. This enables the Customs
Department to redirect its resources to more valuable activities, such as
examining the consignments for prohibited goods, to ensure accuracy and fairness
in procedures, and finding ways to assist industry. Import / Export clearances,
which once took days to clear, can now be processed in minutes.
While Customs officers will
always need to monitor the process and the physical environment for the
subtleties and anomalies a computer can't register, the facility takes care of
the mundane and mechanical aspects to allow officers to focus more on areas
like smuggling, illegal Imports /
Exports, Evasion of Duty etc. While much progress has been made on this, the
potential for further advances is huge.
Some of the other advantages of EDI are :
errors made by human interpretation of data
paper handling, filing, storage and mailing costs
message receipt and arrival acknowledgement
(f) Strengthens relationship between the various agencies associated
Transparency of the movement
of the documents.
Status of EDI in
National Informatics Centre
(NIC) implements EDI in the Custom Houses through a software package. Indian
Customs EDI System (ICES) is designed and developed in consultation with Central
Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC). It comprises two major sub systems namely,
ICES / I – for processing
ICES / E – for processing Export Documents
Presently in the New Custom House, Mangalore only the ICES /E for
processing Export Documents has been introduced. The ICES / I would be
ICES is a software package which accepts the mandatory Customs documents
in an electronic format from the Custom House Agents (CHA s), Importers and
Exporters for further processing by the Customs Officers. Presently these
documents are accepted only through the Service Centre at the Custom House, a
facility set up by the Department for initial data entry of the documents
submitted by the CHA/Importer/Exporter. Online filing of these documents would
start in the near future. Once the Service Centre submits the documents into the
system after proper verification by the CHA, the routing of the documents is
automatic. This process eliminates all the paper work , thereby eliminating the
time lag involved in clearing the Export / Import consignments.
For any Exporter / Importer or CHA to submit their
documents through the ICES , it is mandatory to get themselves registered in the
Procedure for Export Under EDI
Procedure for Import Under EDI ( Yet to be implemented at
Future of EDI
Department of Revenue, in
keeping pace with the rapid growth taking place in the IT industry, proposes to
introduce a high speed network to be called ICENET (Indian Customs & Excise
NETwork) through its own gateway to be called ICEGATE (Indian Customs &
Excise GATEway). This proposed gateway would link all the Custom Houses to a
main server to be put up at the Directorate of Systems, New Delhi. This would
enable a single point submission / retrieval of data by various agencies like
Exporters, Importers, CHAs, RBI, DGFT, Port Trust, Airlines, Shipping Lines etc.
The various Certificates, Licences issued by other agencies would also be
available on-line thereby eliminating the process of physical presentation of
mandatory documents. The exchange of messages would be on the international
standard for EDI i.e. UN/EDIFACT.
Traders may file their Export / Import documents only once with any of the agencies and it would be possible for the other agencies to take the same information through standard EDI Message format (UN/EDIFACT) thereby eliminating the process of multiple submission of documents with various agencies. This would also lead to uniformity in assessment procedure throughout the country. Once EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer ) is also accepted and legislated it would also be possible for the Importers / Exporters to deposit Customs / Excise duty at any bank and receive refunds / drawback directly into their account at any bank of their choice.