Monday, April 17, 2017

Cashless hiccup for customs

The Centre is fast promoting cashless transactions, but the Customs department is yet to take a cue, causing much difficulty for passengers arriving at the Pune airport on international flights. The department still hasn’t been able to procure card swipe machines, forcing travellers to pay Customs duty in cash.

Recently, a passenger coming from Frankfurt to Pune by Lufthansa Airlines claimed that after arrival, the custom officials demanded that he pay in cash. “When I landed at the Pune airport, the Customs officials asked me to pay duty for two wine bottles. I didn’t have cash on my person, so I told them that I could only pay by card, or after withdrawing money from the ATM. But, despite repeated requests, they didn’t allow me to take out cash from the ATM. They forced me to sit for more than 45 minutes, till all the passengers moved towards the arrival gate,” rued Arun Asthana (45), an IT professional working with Global Bank at Hinjawadi. The flight arrived at 12.30 am on Friday. But Arun was only allowed to withdraw cash from the airport ATM at 1.30 am, he said.

The Pune airport has four international flights — two for Dubai (Air India and SpiceJet), one for Abu Dhabi (Jet Airways) and one for Frankfurt (Lufthansa Airlines) — every day. Passengers coming from these destinations and having international products have to pay Customs duty. They are surprised that Pune airport does not have credit card facilities for customs duty payment. While the Government of India, under the initiative taken by the Prime Minister, is exhorting even the uneducated common man in rural areas to go for digital payments, it is ironic that an international airport like Pune does not provide digital Customs duty payment facility.
17/04/17 Sushant Ranjan/Pune Mirror