Affected by a substantial delay in getting back the duty drawback claims of over Rs.700 crore from the Chennai Customs, the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) has decided to seek the intervention of Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the matter.

Industry sources said duty drawback was provided by the Centre to the exporters as an incentive so that they could compete in the global arena with ease.

However, non-availability of fund with the Customs, due to lower tax collections for the current financial year, was said to be one of the reasons for the delay in settlement.

Talking to The Hindu, a FIEO official said: “Mr. Chidambaram is coming to the city in the next few days to take part in the conference organised by us. A delay in getting back the duty drawback claim has affected the livelihood of nearly 3,000 exporters, as they do business on borrowed sum.”

The Customs website on Saturday mentioned the outstanding sum as Rs.719 crore through 71,000 documents. Kolkata sea port ranks second in the pending list with Rs.224 crore through 12,000 documents.

When contacted, a Customs official said: “Whatever is mentioned in the website is correct and you can publish it.” Other senior officials were unwilling to comment.

A FIEO official said that even though the issue was referred to the Chairman, Central Board of Excise and Customs, there was hardly any improvement. So far, the Customs have released only Rs.50 crore. Hence, the matter would be taken to the Union Finance Minister’s notice.

A Chennai Custom House Agent said that for the last three months, they were also experiencing trouble in securing Export Promotion copy of the shipping bill and proof of exports (ARE forms).

This problem had to be sorted out on a war footing, else country’s exports would take a beating, he said.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National