Cross-check on FTA, concessionary imports withdrawn; re-emergence of revenue leakage, scams feared

KARACHI: Re-emergence of large-scale corruption and hence revenue leakage is feared as the Customs under pressure of clearing agents’ cartel has withdrawn the cross-check imposed on clearance of consignments under free trade agreement (FTA) and concessionary SROs.

In September this year, Najeeb Abbasi, Collector, MCC Appraisement East had issued directives and Principal Appraisers had been made final assessing authority in order to bring transparency and create deterrence against revenue leakage on consignment clearance under Free Trade Agreement (FTA) regime, and concessionary SROs.

But, now the above mentioned arrangement has been withdrawn, as the clearing agents had been exerting pressure that this exercise had increased the dwell time (clearance time).

As per the arrangement, the goods declaration where benefit of FTA or SROs was claimed could be out of charged at the level of principal appraisers at MCC Appraisement East. The assessment officers, after completing the assessment, had to forward the GD with the claim of benefit to principal appraisers, who, after thorough scrutiny and confirming admissibility of the claimed benefit, declared out of charge.

As this system has been withdrawn the appraising officer would conduct the assessment and then declare out of charge. Now, the cross-check has been withdrawn and the appraising officers who are lesser experienced as compared to principal appraisers have the entire responsibility leaving room for malpractices.

The authority to Principal Appraisers had been extended by the collector since exemption of substantial amounts was extended on the basis of FTA certificate, concessionary SROs; due care and caution was needed during the scrutiny of such claims.

It is feared that the malpractices would be initiated again like in past several scams including duty-free shop scam, Afghan Transit scam, occurred due to absence of cross-check arrangement.

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