ISLAMABAD: Member Customs Nisar Muhammad said that Pakistan has an edge of long route through northwest border and coastal belt but smuggling of contrabands, industrial raw material and petroleum products is continued through this route, damaging the economy of Pakistan.
While talking to Customs Today in an exclusive interview, Member Customs said another element which should not be ignored is that the Afghan Transit Trade being carried out through un-notified routes is also helping the smugglers.
Expressing his deep concern over kidnapping of Customs officials in Jewani area of Gwadar, Nisar Muhammad said that Pakistan Customs is a leading agency to apprehend smugglers and that is why it has to face reaction from the traffickers. This incidence shows that smugglers have come to know the seriousness of FBR’s stance against them, he said, adding that Pakistan Customs could also face such situations in future. However, the Customs will not give up its struggle against smuggling, he added.
“We are working with other law enforcement agencies like Frontier Constabulary (FC), Balochistan Levies, Pakistan Coast Guards and Maritime Security Agency to tackle the rising smuggling incidents and we will overcome this menace in near future,” he hoped.
To a query he said that WeBOC is the outcome of the experience which Pakistan Customs gained during the last decade and this system is one of the best computerised systems. He accepted that One-Customs clearance system followed by CARE has certain serious deficiencies and is not fulfilling the national requirements regarding quick clearance of imported and exported goods and cargos. The new system WeBOC is a developed system and is a result of collective wisdom of experienced Customs officers and the technical team of PRAL, he said.
Member Customs Nisar Muhammad said that all the modules of export/import concessionaries schemes, transits and transshipments at dry ports have been developed, and before implementation of this system, extensive training was conducted. He said that first of all training was given to the Customs staff, clearing agents, shipping agents, ports handlers, transporters and all other stakeholders and it was implemented at national level initially.
It is also worth noticing, he said, through this system the element of discrimination has been eliminated and all stakeholders including exporters and importers are treated equally at all the Customs stations.
He said that there might be some problems left indeed but FBR is confident that these would effectively be handled by WeBOC project team soon. He said that recently WeBOC Project has been upgraded to Directorate of Reforms and Automation (DRA) with the same purpose of handling the issues. The said directorate is working even in odd hours to respond to the queries of field formations and all stakeholders, he added.
Nisar Muhammad also clarified that during first two weeks of November, the Customs duty showed a positive growth in revenue collection. He said that 15.77 per cent more Customs duty has been collected during two weeks of November against the same period of 2012, whereas sales tax collection at import stage has recorded 47 per cent increase and withholding tax showed 45 per cent growth as compared to the corresponding period of last year.
He admitted that FBR is closely monitoring and evaluating less collection of Customs duty. It can also be said that less Customs duty collection is a result of Free Trade Agreements signed by Pakistan with several other countries including China, he added.
Another important factor, he said, is the amnesty scheme of 50,000 smuggled vehicles and regularisation of these vehicles caused less imports of highest Customs duty products.