KARACHI: All Pakistan Customs Agents Association, Karachi Customs Agents Association, All Pakistan Bonded Carrier Association on Friday jointly announced a protest starting from September 10 for an indefinite period against the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) move of dragging customs agents and bonded carriers into ISAF missing containers scam by issuing recovery notices.
Siafullah Khan, president, KCAA and Shams Burney, chairman, APCCA jointly addressed a press conference at Karachi Press Club to show the strength behind their protest call for September 10.
Both the leaders have categorically said that all the customs agents, bonded carriers and allied service providers would stop their working and no goods declaration for import or export would be filed from the date.
They said that about 1200 imports and 800 exports GDs are being filed at Karachi ports on daily basis for consignment clearance. This will make a standstill to all working at ports and also stop the supplies of NATO and ISAF.
The customs agents are protesting the issuance of Order in Original (ONO) by the FBR to customs agents to recover about Rs2.5 million per missing container for the total recovery of Rs53 billion, the figure provided by the then FBR chairman Salman Siddiqu before the Supreme Court on the basis of Hafiz Anees report under which about 28,800 containers were declared missing.
Siafullah Khan said that despite FTO report of 7,922 missing containers that was presented before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the FBR had resorted to its own report.
Besides issuing the ONO to customs agents, the FBR also issued the recovery notices to National Logistic Cell (NLC), the national carrier. Interestingly, the other national carrier Pakistan Railways has not received a single notice, the customs agents leaders claimed.
They briefed the media that the customs agents had no role in missing containers scam because the responsibility completed while handing over the consignment/container to national carrier at the port of entry at Karachi.
However, it is responsibility of national carrier to take the consignment safely to its destination and collectorates of both at entry and exit points to reconcile the delivery.
They lamented that despite the assurance by FBR chairman at a meeting held last month the customs authorities surprisingly issued the ONO, in fact at a time when another missing container case was in the Supreme Court regarding illegal transportation of illegal weapons.
Shams Burney said that the latest move of the FBR was to protect the customs officials, who were involved in the scam.
They demanded the government and Supreme Court to constitute a team from NAB, FIA and Customs Intelligence to reopen all the cases nominated in the scam and conduct inquiry afresh. “We will not support any customs agent who is found involved in the scam,” Saifullah Khan but it is unfair to nominate all the customs agents who provided services for NATO and ISAF goods clearance.
At the press conference the newly automated consignment clearance system, WeBOC was also strongly criticized and demanded end to corruption through the system.
The FBR increased the number of assessment hall by enhancing collectorates and staff, especially ‘lappos’ “the unofficial person working on behalf of custom official’ conducting the assessment and examination making room for mass corruption.
They said that automated system was good but the person handling would make it a failure.