The ministry is now monitoring a particular group of importers whose dwelling time at ports is longer than others.
Ardiansyah Parman, a special advisor to the Trade Ministry, said his office had already listed more than 1,000 shipments belonging to at least 700 importers, several of which had dwelling time above the average five days.
Based on its review, Ardiansyah said the ministry would later decide whether importers with longer dwelling times had “deliberately” repeated the same mistakes that triggered the delays at the ports.
“As a form of penalty, we are planning to revoke their import licenses if they are proven guilty of disobeying the rules,” Ardiansyah told a group of reporters on Friday, referring to a previous statement from Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel.
Rachmat said recently that he would revoke import licenses of importers who had repeatedly and deliberately postponed the completion of their import documentation.
Such importers only complete the documents once their cargo has arrived at a port. The habit means officials take longer to perform pre-customs clearances at the ports.
According to data from the Finance Ministry’s customs and excise directorate general, from the total average dwelling time of 5.5 days, 3.6 days are spent on pre-customs clearances, a process that involves layered procedures, including verification for certain goods — especially edible products — from various institutions.
The verification approvals, called prohibition and restriction permits (Lartas), are issued by 20 state institutions, including the Trade Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry, the Environment and Forestry Ministry and the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM).
The directorate general’s data shows that 51 percent of more than 30,000 importers are still required to obtain verification approvals.
Meanwhile, around 43 percent of importers usually process their import documentation more than three days after the arrival of their cargo, the data revealed.
Ardiansyah said there was no excuse for importers to postpone their import documentation until after their cargo arrived, pointing out that “they could instantly check whether they should obtain verification approvals for their goods through the website of the Indonesia National Single Window [INSW]”.
The INSW is an integrated online system operated by the customs and excise directorate general for the purpose of managing the country’s inflow and outflow of goods.
The portal is connected to INATRADE, a real-time online system operated by the Trade Ministry.
Aside from urging importers to obey the rules, Ardiansyah said the Trade Ministry would also help to cut bureaucratic red tape by requesting that institutions involved in verification start linking their systems with the INSW and INATRADE.
Currently, only the Agriculture Ministry already has a real-time online system linked to the INSW and INATRADE for its verification of horticulture products, while other institutions still use manual processes.
“We are convinced that the current average dwelling time can be reduced if institutions start integrating their systems with the INSW and INATRADE. As for the Trade Ministry itself, we have 96 licenses that are already online of the total 163 under our domain,” Ardiansyah said.
The Indonesian Importers Association (Ginsi) said previously in a statement that the business group was ready to cooperate with the government to reduce dwelling times, in exchange for better services from ministries and institutions in charge of ports.
On June 17, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo inspected the country’s main port, Tanjung Priok in North Jakarta. He was outraged to discover that the average dwelling time had reached 5.5 days — higher than the targeted 4.7 days — and vowed to sanction those responsible.