FBR takes notice of unhealthy and unlawful working conditions at container terminals

KARACHI: Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has taken notice of a letter sent to him complaining about the immoral and inhumane behavior of senior customs officers towards appraising officers posted at container terminals.

A letter bearing signatures of General Secretary Pakistan Customs Officers Association Raja Waseem and Senior Vice President Ch. Mohammad Asghar apprised Chairman FBR that Appraisers posted at KICT, PICT & SAPT at examination were facing hardships and health risks due to working environment introduced by the seniors illegally and unlawfully through harassment and in-human behavior.

The letter notes that staff posted in the aforementioned area are working continuously 12 hours daily without any break and off-working days in a week i.e. even on Sundays and gazette holidays, which is against the nature, human rights and the Articles of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

However, when contacted by Customnews.pk, Raja Waseem and Ch. Mohammad Asghar categorically denied writing any such letter to anyone. They said that it was a forged letter and the Association had nothing to do with it. However, they confirmed that working conditions at the above mentioned container terminals were very bad and the Customs staff was over-burdened with workload because of shortage of staff.

Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has taken notice of the letter and the inquiry has been marked to Chief Collector Abdul Rasheed Shaikh, who is known to be a very competent and honest officer.

The under-reference letter mentions that the staff posted at the examination area could not even give time to their family and day by day were getting sick. The letter complaints about the senior officers including Chief Collector, Collectors and Additional Collectors who were harassing the appraisers and examiners and threatening them of dire consequences compelling them to continue working under such inhumane and unhealthy working conditions.

The letter mentions that several officials were not accorded leave even for emergencies.

The letter disowned by the Customs Officers Association said the Terminal Operators pay a huge amount as a bribe in the name of overtime amounting to Rs1.0 million each to the Chief Collector, Collectors and Additional Collectors on monthly basis to provide them non-stop services by the Customs Appraisers in order to run their business unlawfully.

The Customs staff is at their disposal as and when they want to have the containers examined and even to their own mood since they are hefty paying the senior officers and have support of the senior officers who only speak their language. It is worth mentioning that Terminal Operators staff enjoy two working holidays as per the gazette of Pakistan i.e. Saturday and Sunday but the staff of the Customs are not allowed any kind of leave throughout the year even Sundays and gazette holidays and even they are not being paid overtime by them which is to be given as per law.

An office bearer at the Customs Officers Association said most of the things mentioned in the letter were correct and situation at these terminals was not good. However, he strongly rejected all allegations against the Chief Collector and said Chief Collector Appraisement South Abdul Rasheed Shaikh is the most honest and highly reputed officer in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and he is known for his work against corruption.

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