KARACHI: The online computerized system for consignment clearance has prevented movement of imported goods without duty payment at Air Freight Unit (AFU) Karachi on the other hand clearing agents pressurizing the authorities in a bid to rescue those elements involved in getting cleared the goods through backdoor channel.
Pakistan Customs on February 13 launched Web-Based One Customs (WeBOC) at AFU for the clearance of imports at Jinnah International Airport. The arrival at the airport is flooded with ‘Khapia’ who used to bring a large quantity of goods and with the help of customs officials they got cleared the goods without paying a single penny to exchequer.
The WeBOC system has almost eliminated the human interface and now Khapia are required to declare their dutiable goods. Once the system tracks the goods then importer or Khapia has to file goods declaration and complete the procedure without bribing the customs officials. The system also required details of importers, which usually such Khapia avoid to share.
Some other imports, where importers used to file GD and managed to get benefit by misdeclaring the consignment and finally able to get cleared their consignment, are also worried about the new system.
The customs clearing agents association instead of supporting the authorities to make the system, which in-house developed software, successful they are seen rescuing those elements.
A day earlier, the clearing agents have threatened to strike terming the system a failure and warned Pakistan Customs of total close. They are arguing that the system had failed to clear the huge traffic of goods.
It is interesting to note that for the last many days the consignment clearance was stuck-up due to protests and sit-in in Karachi against Quetta killings in blasts. In this scenario the demand of clearing agents is meaningless.
Recently, the clearing agents association also sent a communication to Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) warning about port congestion due to delay in grounding at Karachi International Container Terminal under WeBOC.
It was double standard of the clearing agents that they pressurize the revenue collecting authorities through statement in the press/media but remain silent when they meet any high official of the FBR.
In this connection, on the occasion of launching the WeBOC at Appraisement Collectorate, just a day after when the agents association sent a protest letter to FBR chairman and shared with the media, the general secretary of KCAA was remained mum despite media question to Member Customs about the problems in the WeBOC.
The Member Customs in that event had admitted that there were problems in the WeBOC but he said most of issued had resolved and remaining would be addressed very soon.
The independent sources said that the customs agents are useful tools of the business community in Pakistan and they put pressure through such tools to stop any initiative of the revenue authorities to streamline the system.
They said that massive corruption in the FBR was due to businessmen are ready to pay bribe instead of paying their liabilities fearing documentation, because they are the custodian of black money in the system.