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The National Import Database (NIDB) is an electronic database focussing on the Customs Valuation and classification aspects of all goods imported at various customs stations in India. The NIDB provides instant access to the combined data, duly analyzed and flagged by the Directorate of Valuation (DOV), to assessing officers all over India for their use as an effective tool to check possible under-valuation and commercial fraud on imported goods.
Implemented in phases starting from November 2001, the NIDB is now (June 2004) fully operational and has become an important assessment tool and decision support system for Customs work. It finds application in the following areas:
The NIDB is made available to all Customs stations in the country and is updated every week. It is also made available on the Directorate of Valuation website (www.dov.gov.in) on a password protected basis.
The Import data is captured from all Customs stations on a daily basis in a specially designed format on the day immediately following the date of assessment. In cases where electronic data processing is in vogue at ICES stations, the import data in the required format is automatically extracted by the computer system with the help of special software developed by NIC. In case of non-EDI assessments the required input data is entered manually at the customs stations on the Data Entry Modules (DEM) designed for the purpose. Some EDI customs stations are using their in-house developed software for capturing import data from manual bills of entry. In such cases, Data Extractor Module will be required to generate NIDB input data files, in the desired format.
Smaller Customs stations, including ICD, CFS and LCS, (non-ICES stations) use a “Data Entry Module that has been developed by Center for Development of Advance Computing (National center for software technology – NCST). This software has been supplied to all Commissionerates in the country. It is also available for download from DOV website http://www.dov.gov.in. All details of assessed B/Es must be manually fed in the said software so as to generate import data file. For this purpose, all Custom stations are required to have PCs with Internet connection.
At present (June 2004), import data for NIDB is captured in the following 28 fields:
The import data files generated / extracted at individual customs stations are in a flat file format (text files) and are transmitted everyday following the date of assessment to the Central server at the Directorate of Valuation. From EDI locations, the data transfer is through a dedicated Intranet called ICENET. Other customs stations, which are not linked by ICENET, send the import data to the Valuation Directorate via email.
In respect of ICES locations, daily import data files get transmitted automatically through Message Exchange Server (MES) linked to the EDI system. The data is first transmitted to the Main server of the Directorate of Systems at Delhi and then retransmitted to Central server of DOV at Bombay. The data transmission can be monitored by querying the Message Exchange Server. The Directorate of Systems can monitor the data flow through its Main Server, which is linked to ICENET. The Directorate of Valuation also monitors the daily receipt of data at its Central Server. The EDI stations also could check and confirm the position of data transfer by checking the relevant ICEGATE query module www.icegate.gov.in/jsp/DOV.jsp. A system for daily monitoring of transmission of import data files (commonly referred to as DOV data) should be in place at the Customs stations for ensuring timely transmission and for preventing data losses
In respect of non-ICES Customs stations, Import data files generated through the Data Entry Module are required to be transmitted on the day following the date of assessment directly to the Directorate of Valuation via email. It should be sent as email attachment to: directorate[dot]valuation[at]dov[dot]gov[dot]in In order to avoid loss of data, a mechanism for daily monitoring of transmission of import data files (commonly referred to as manual DOV data) should be in place.
The import data received from individual customs stations is combined and analyzed in the Directorate of Valuation (DOV) with the help of intelligent software called “Mulyaankan” developed by Center for Development of Advanced Computing (NCST). The data analysis is done early every week in respect of data received for the previous week (Monday – Sunday). The Mulyaankan software segregates identical or similar goods and calculates unit values, of declared and assessed values as well as weighted averages of identical / similar goods in respect of all sensitive commodities. It also calculates the percentage deviations of each import consignment from the weighted average. The software marks those imports as outliers, where the assessed unit value is more than 10% lower compared to weekly weighted average computed for the same week. The detailed analysis is carried out for sensitive goods identified by the Directorate of Valuation in consultation with Customs stations. This list is periodically reviewed. In respect of other commodities, only unit values are calculated. An interface with international price information is also being provided progressively along with analyzed data. The analyzed data is transmitted to all customs stations and is also posted on DOV website immediately after analysis.
The weekly-analyzed data is provided in excel format for the ease of manipulation of data and contains the following 22 fields:
The analyzed data files are of two categories and are designated in mmdd mmdd format. The first category in respect of full data for the week designated as Dvfmmddmmdda.xl indicates full-analyzed data. The second category comprises only sensitive goods and is designated as Dvsmmddmmda.xls, which is a subset of DVf file. Period indicated in the file name represents the assessment period of the bill of entry. For example, DVF10281105A.XLS means data compiled from assessed Bills of entry during the period 28th October to 5th November. Certain sensitive information namely importer details, supplier’s name, CHA etc. are not included in the output data format for reasons of commercial confidentiality. However, these details are made available by DOV to data users upon specific request by email. In the excel file, data is arranged in the order of HS- based eight digits Tariff Heading (CTH). Within the CTH, data is arranged in the order of the Customs station and then by Country of origin. However the data can be rearranged in any order desired by the user. Sorted data can be filtered and printed. It also allows wide search and retrieval facilities.
The weekly-analyzed data files are of big size (25-30 MB) and are generally spilt into several files due the size limitation in excel software. Such additional files are designated Dvfmmddmmddb.xls (full data) and Dvsmmddmmddb.xls, (sensitive data) respectively, and so on depending on the size.
The DOV analyzed data (DVF files) is transmitted to all ICES locations every week via ICENET. This also travels through the Main server in the Directorate of Systems. It is usually transmitted every Wednesday after the analysis. The Directorate of Systems and DOV could monitor the data flow centrally. However, a system to monitor the weekly receipt of NIDB data (DVF files) on the ICENET is required at the individual Customs stations. The weekly analytical data files (DVF and DVS files) are also posted on the DOV website in a downloadable format. In case of non-receipt of weekly files, the customs stations could download it from DOV website and update its own level database. The passwords for downloading have been assigned to designated NIDB Nodal officers at each Commissionerate
Non-ICES customs stations are provided with the weekly-analyzed NIDB data via email. Due to size limitations of email, only DVS files are being transmitted to these stations. However, these stations also could download the full data (DVF files) from the DOV website and update the local database.
It is imperative that all data on contemporaneous imports are made available as one data set so that the entire data could be accessed in one go. This cannot be accomplished in MS Excel format due to its size limitations. Therefore MS Access based software NIDB-C was developed for pooling of weekly NIDB dispatches and converting them into a single database. New CDs incorporating up-to-date NIDB data in Access format (NIDB – C) has been supplied to all ICES customs stations in February 2004. The analyzed data files transmitted by DOV every week could be imported into this consolidated access database (NIDB – C) after its installation on a LAN server in order to further update the local data base. NIDB-C software enables the entire data to be made available on the LAN at major customs stations for access by assessing officers and other users on their desktop. A PC-centric variant of NIDB-C was also developed for smaller custom locations and it is known as NIDB-Q. This software containing full NIDB was also supplied to all customs stations in December 2003. This software can be installed on a PC and weekly dispatches of analyzed data can be downloaded from the Internet to update the database at smaller customs stations that are not linked via ICENET.
For large networks at ICES locations, NIDB-C software is the most suitable so as to facilitate online querying on the LAN. For smaller ICES stations, where LAN has not been established, NIDB-Q could be installed on stand-alone PCs. Both the softwares are quite user-friendly and have the same query interface. Query can be executed by filling up combination of one or more following parameters:
NIDB-Q for stand-alone PCs could be better used at these stations. This MS Access based software permits querying on NIDB data in a very user-friendly manner and provides faster retrieval of required information. Query can be executed by filling up combination of one or more parameters listed at paragraph 8.1 above.
Querying the weekly dispatches of MS Excel files:
The Ms Excel files dispatched by DOV every week could also be stored as individual files on the PC/server for carrying out specific studies such as review of “outliers; weekly valuation trend analysis, etc. These are usually done by Valuation Checking Cells and investigation cells at major customs stations.
Accessing NIDB Data on DOV Website(www.dov.gov.in)
The NIDB access on DOV website is password restricted. Username and passwords for NIDB access have been assigned to nodal officers for NIDB at all Commissionerates. Those Commissionerates, which have not, yet designated a nodal officer for NIDB, may do so and communicate the details to DOV for obtaining individual username & password. It may be noted that the redesigned DOV website has several password protected areas, such as SVB database, Valuation guidelines, WCO Rulings and downloads. These protected areas also could be assessed by using the NIDB password.
Weekly analyzed NIDB data files are available on DOV website (www.dov.gov.in) for download. Whenever difficulty is encountered at a custom station in utilizing any of NIDB softwares (NIDB-C, NIDB-Q, Data Entry Modules, etc) correction patches are also prepared and placed on DOV website for download. Generally the following items are available for downloads at DOV website:
NIDB-C & NIDB-Q software CDs that have been forwarded to custom stations contain three months’ data. After installing the software on a Server or PC, fresh DOV dispatch files should be imported every week so as to update the local database. The missing weekly files could also be downloaded from the website. The weekly files are available in zipped format and need unzipping before adding to database. The responsibility for updating the database on a weekly basis and distributing to NIDB users should be assigned to a designated officer at each customs station. The Access database should be checked regularly at senior levels to ensure that no weekly-analyzed data files are missing for the intervening periods.
NIDB is a tool for checking declared values of live consignments. Outliers are alerts for checking previously assessed values for their authenticity and for taking follow up action on suspected transactions. Based on outlier study and other information, it would be possible for custom stations to identify the risk indicators and develop profiles for targeting consignments of potential valuation fraud.
The principal use of NIDB is to compare declared values with contemporaneous assessed values of identical / similar goods and with international prices so as to take a considered decision on the acceptance or otherwise of the declared value. It helps to identify potential cases of under valuation, which should be scrutinized further. The NIDB prices are however not intended to be used as substitute values. Each case has to be examined on merits taking into account circumstances of the transaction. Wherever it is proposed to reject the declared values, the procedure laid down under Rule 10 A should be followed, unless evidence exists to established fraud. In either situation, it would be necessary to re-determine the value for assessment. Use of NIDB prices (assessed unit value for contemporaneous goods under Rule 4) with appropriate adjustments on account of difference in quantity level, commercial level and other factors would be appropriate in such cases where valuation is done under Rule 5 or Rule 6.
Outliers of the past period and the record of their post-assessment scrutiny may be analyzed to target :
Valuation Trend Analysis could also be done for targeted commodities to see whether the declared values are in consonance with the international price trends.
Use of NIDB for Risk Assessment
The possible integration of NIDB data into EDI System is under examination so as to facilitate the use of the database and to design an automatic alert system for potentially undervalued consignments. The Risk Assessment Module under development in Directorate of Systems also takes into account of NIDB features.
The benefits of NIDB shall not be realized unless the assessing officers use it objectively. This requires training and monitoring at senior levels. All NIDB softwares have the provision for monitoring its utilization by supervisory officers. The LAN administrator, both in NIDB-C and NIDB-Q, could assign each assessing officer a user name and password. The software counts the number of access by each officer so as to enable the supervisory officers to monitor its utilization by assessing officers for live assessment. The same could be done in a stand-alone PC as well by supervisory officers, who could regularly monitor the NIDB access by the individual officers.
Ensuring accuracy and quality in data entry is vitally important for exploiting the full potential of the NIDB project. Full description and other details, such as brand, model, and specification (size, composition, purity, strength, etc.) are of crucial importance in carrying out accurate analysis by Mulyaankan Software. These details are to be identified and pre-programmed for the software to give accurate results. The above parameters are also essential for meaningful comparison of live consignments and to enable assessing officers to take considered decision on valuation and classification.
Studies by the Directorate of Valuation (DOV) revealed that a significant percentage of import data captured at customs stations do not incorporate all the required details specified above, resulting in poor data quality. In order to improve the quality of import data by incorporating all the required details, it is necessary to have a close supervision and monitoring of data entry. The details should also be verified by appraising officers at the time of assessment and examination or clearance. The assessing officers should ensure that the missing information is incorporated in the EDI system by way of amendment of the bill of entry prior to clearance. Suitable mechanism for this purpose could be devised at the customs stations by issue of standing orders and public notices. These should be followed up by checks at senior levels so that capturing of good quality data is assured.
All customs stations participating in the NIDB project should have certain basic infrastructure and institutional arrangement. These are summarized below:
For smaller custom stations to participate in the NIDB project, it is mandatory to have personal computers with Internet connection. Whether it is data extraction, transmission or use of NIDB, all require a PC with Internet connectivity. For bigger stations, NIDB should be made available on LAN i.e. on the desktop of each officer.
There should be a system to review the functioning of data generation/ extraction and transmission at each custom station. Monitoring weekly receipts of NIDB data (DVF files) either from ICENET or from DOV website is quite important.
The custom stations are required to generate and transmit the import data to DOV on a daily basis. It is important that the data is received at DOV in the same week of assessment so as to get included in data analysis of the following week. For ICES stations, the daily data extraction process could be automated in the MES. However, this need to be monitored regularly by checking logs to ensure timely transmission. For non-ICES stations, and manually assessed bills of entry, data need to be captured daily using the Data Entry Module software and transmitted by email to DOV.
Timely incorporation of fresh weekly-analyzed data is imperative to keep the local database up-to-date. It is desirable to make available the full database on the desktop of all assessing officers so as to ensure its regular use. The assessing officers also need to be trained to use the database.
Senior officers should monitor the level and degree of utilization of NIDB data regularly. For this purpose, the monitoring mechanism in NIDB-C & NIDB-Q software could be used. Each assessing officer is assigned a username and password. The software counts the number of access by each officer so as to enable the supervisory officers to monitor its utilization by assessing officers for live assessment.
On receipt of weekly-analyzed data (DVS files), the customs stations should identify the outliers pertaining to them and determine as to whether the declared values in such cases are genuine or not in consultation with the importer and causing enquiries as appropriate. Follow up action may also have to be taken to recover short levy, if any.
DOV website (www.dov.gov.in) hosts the NIDB data on a password protected basis. This would be handy for remote stations and agencies not directly involved in assessment work such as SIIB, SVB and DRI. Each Custom station or user agency is required to nominate an officer at the level of Joint/Additional Commissioner level as the nodal officer for NIDB for assigning user name and password by the DOV. This would enable them to access NIDB data on the website. The same password could also be used to access other restricted areas of the website such as the weekly-analyzed data (DVF/DVS files) available for download, SVB database, DOV Valuation alert and guidelines. Two presentations on NIDB and a paper named, “Overview of NIDB” are available on the website. Manuals for NIDB-C, NIDB-Q and DEM are also available on the website. All patches for DOV softwares and updates on NIDB are also posted on the website. Finally, this Manual is also made available on the DOV website.