On February 15, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) launched the long awaited and much needed online payment system for food importers for the processing of their payments towards clearances.
In stealth mode since late December, from when only some importers were piloting the system, the new system is aimed at reducing the time and effort towards getting food consignments tested and cleared for sale in the country.
A spokesperson for the FSSAI told FoodNavigator-Asia that the relevant agencies, for example the Central Board of Excise and Customs, has been informed in this regard by the authority of the new system.
“The online payment system would provide an effective and quick way for food importers to make payments for lab analysis,” he said, adding that the former methods of cash and cheque payments were fraught with delays and corruption.
To use the payment system however, importers would have to go through some documentation. “They would need to fill a form and provide documents in support of the food sample testing, which when cleared by the FSSAI would allow the importer to use the payment system.”
The importer would be provided with unique login details to the system, using which he would be able to identify his payments, pay them, and also take a digital receipt for reconciliation.
Pointing out that the online system is not just for payments, the spokesperson said that importers would also be able to “track the status of their samples right through to the final clearance.”
Kartik C., a food importer based in Mumbai, who works in the field of meat products said that the new payment system should work for a quicker and better process once refined.
“I have not used it yet or have knowledge of it. But anything that makes us move away from all the heavy paperwork and documentation towards a more transparent digital process is welcome,” he said.