KARACHI: In order to regularize the smuggled vehicles plying on roads across the country, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has finalized an amnesty scheme likely to be introduced early next month to offer an opportunity to owners of smuggled or non-paid duty vehicles to pay their liabilities and get cleared to avoid punitive measures of the revenue body.
Sources in Pakistan Customs said that the Amnesty Scheme had been finalized by the board and it would be announced in the first week of March 2013 for next four months. “The FBR estimates an amount of Rs30 billion will be collected by end-June 2013 under the scheme,” a Customs official said. “An amount of Rs10 billion in total estimated amount is likely to be collected by Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) Appraisement,” the official added.
Under the scheme the owners can clear the vehicles by paying the normal duty and taxes besides paying 20 percent additional as fine and penalty.
Earlier in 2008 the similar scheme was announced but sources said that the scheme had failed to yield sizeable revenue because fine and penalty was imposed at 40 percent of total duty and taxes payable. “The scheme was failed because owners found no attraction as the total price of a vehicle under the previous scheme exceeded the original price,” the Customs official said.
Under the prevailing laws there was no fine or penalty is available on smuggled or non-paid duty vehicles and customs officials are authorized to impound/seize and subsequently put for an auction.
The customs sources said that by introducing the scheme the FBR would able to bridge the shortfall in revenue collection. The FBR revenue collection target in 2012/2013 is Rs2381 billion and it managed to collection about Rs one trillion in first six months of current fiscal year, and the shortfall against the progressive target in July-December 2012 is about Rs200 billion.
It is interesting to note that the scheme is planned when a case regarding law and order situation in Balochistan is under proceeding at the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
In the past the Supreme Court of Pakistan had taken stern stance over smuggled vehicles that were using for terror activities.
In Balochistan law and order case, the FBR had informed the apex court that a data of about 33,000 vehicles was being collected in respect of non-customs paid vehicles and assured the apex court that all such vehicles would be confiscated.
“The customs department shall do the needful within the period of three weeks and submit report to the registrar of this court for our perusal in Chambers,” the court remarked.
In its interim order on October 12, 2012 the Supreme Court observed that the interference in the affairs of the provinces of Balochistan by the secret agencies has also been prime facie, established as it has been noted that a good number of people are being obliged for the reasons best known to the agencies by allowing rahdaris to person who keep plying smuggled vehicles (also known as Kabli vehicles) without registration and without payment of customs duty.
“The rahdaris are also reportedly issued to allow unauthorized possession of illicit arms and reportedly whenever such persons are apprehended being involved in the crimes they take shelter behind such unlawful rahdaris or documents,” the Supreme Court remarked.
In this case the Ministry of Defence had submitted that all such rahdaries were been cancelled, which were issued earlier. Therefore, the Supreme Court directed that in future no such rahdaris either for vehicles or for the arms shall be issued by any of the secret agencies i.e. ISI, MI, IB or the federal or provincial governments.
The apex court also criticized the role of customs authorities in creating a poor situation of law and order because knowing well that thousands of smuggled vehicles are being plied throughout the province and are being used in the crimes to disturb law and order situation.
“Therefore, …, the FBR is directed to recover all these vehicles as early as possible and in future no such vehicle including motorcycles etc. shall be allowed to ply without the payment of customs duty and if any such vehicle found, the same shall be impounded and the accused persons shall be dealt with under the law,” the court noted.
Following the directives of the Supreme Court the collectorates had initiated massive drive to impound the smuggled and non-paid vehicles and were successful to detect a large number but the owners are influential enough to retain the same vehicles.