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Central Board of Narcotics allows scan copy application and considers routine permits for export/import

Once the lockdown is lifted by the Union Government, the exporter/importer of narcotic drugs/Psychotropic Substances and Controlled Substances need to submit the hard copies of the original import certificate within the period of 15 days of uplifting of the lockdown

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The Central Board of Narcotics (CBN), an arm of the Department of Revenue and Finance, Government of India, allows scanned copy of the application, along with self-authenticated copies of all the documents (including the import certificate) and routine permits, with 48 hours prior permission for export/import of Narcotic Drugs/Psychotropic Substances and Controlled Substances during the nationwide lockdown period due to Coronavirus (Covid-19).

On March 27, 2020, the Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA) made a representation to the CBN, expressing the industry’ problem. The association highlighted that due to lockdown in the country, pharma companies are observing non-functioning of courier companies or speed post or expected substantial delays in deliveries. Hence, the exporters/importers of Narcotic Drugs/Psychotropic Substances/Controlled Substances are facing difficulties.

Considering the market situation due to COVID-19 pandemic, the CBN issued a notification allowing the exporters/importers of Narcotic Drugs/ Psychotropic Substances/Controlled Substances to submit the scanned copy of the application, along with self-authenticated copies of all the documents (including the import certificate) on the email id [email protected]/supdt [email protected]/[email protected] for Narcotic Drugs/Psychotropic Substances/ Controlled Substances from company’s registered email ids.

Considering both the concerns and since the pharmaceutical APIs and dosage forms fall under the essential commodities and medicines are required to maintain healthcare of human beings, CBN has  allowed the scanned copy of the application. However, it is a temporary move and once the lockdown is lifted by the Union Government, the exporters/importers needs to submit the hard copies of the original import certificate within a period of 15 days of uplifting of the lockdown. Any  exporter/importer failing to make the submission of the import permit within the  specified period, will make the company liable for suitable action under the provisions of NDPS Act, along with withholding all the future applications of the firm.

Commenting on the notification, Devesh Malladi, Chairman, NDPS Committee, IDMA, said, “We see the government is working round-the-clock for making things easier for the pharma industry. They have taken into consideration our raised issues and in a difficult time due to COVID-19, and nationwide lockdown they reverted positively. We had requested the CBN, and accepted the industry’s plea and with this, we will submit the scanned copy of application which CBN can upload on the customs portal ICEGATE Indian Customs EDI Gateway), which will ease out the process of application of the exporter/ importer of Narcotic Drugs/Psychotropic Substances/Controlled Substances.”

Responding to the technical functionality of the portal, Malladi emphasised, “It is a very robust portal, much better than our SUGAM portal. It has started functioning immediately for us.”

However, he feels that giving time of 15 days for submitting the hard copies of the original import certificate is less. He explained, “We will be further requesting to the concerned authority to consider extending it from 15 days to minimum 30 days because our country might lift the lockdown, but the situation might not be the same in the importing country. And knowing the fact that most of the international borders are closed and very limited flights/ freighters/special cargo are functioning. In that case, getting a hardcopy from the importing countries will be a challenging affair. Hence, we will be making another representation to the respective authority.”

Commenting on the routine permits, with 48 hours’ prior permission, he said, ” We sought that too, because most of the international borders are closed and the government has banned incoming and outgoing flights to prevent the spread of community transmission of coronavirus in the country. And in such a pandemic situation, maintaining an original routine, which was mentioned in the original permit, is not possible and the revised routine will take three weeks, which is a long period.”

As per the notification, exporter/also needs to forward the scanned copy of the demand draft of Rs 1,000 in favour of DDO, CBN, Gwalior, along with the application. And then the CBN will issue the export authorisation/import licence/ NOC after following the due procedure and scanned copy of the said export authorisation/import licence/ NOC will be sent to the company’s registered mail id.

The International Narcotics Control Board has also mandated to ensure the availability of internationally-controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes.

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