KARACHI: The appraising staff suspended for alleged negligence in the ‘regulatory duty evasion on wheat import case’ is likely to be restored provisionally as no evidence has so far been found proving their negligence.

Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) of Port Muhammad Bin Qasim had lodged an FIR against wheat importers who tried to defraud the exchequer taking the advantage of flaws in online clearance system.

In order to fix the responsibility on customs officials in negligence, the collectorate suspended Principal Appraiser Asad Aleem and five appraisers namely Aneesur Rehman, Noor Muhammad Kaleem, Ghulam Yasin, Sareer uddin and Qamar Mubeen.

An official said that it had been proved that the shipping company and terminal officials had actually dodged the system, and there had been no evidence at all hinting towards the involvement of these officers.

It is pertinent to mention here that no inquiry was conducted against these officials not any charge sheet was issued. The official said since the negligence on the part of these officials could be established, it is likely that they would be provisionally restored soon.

WeBOC project has this flaw, that if the IGM is filed, it remains on its place even if the ship is not berthed. The system needs to block the IGM in the system if the ship is not berthed so that assessment could not be undertaken based on such IGMs.

Some of the wheat importers took advantage of this loophole and attempted to defraud the exchequer.

M/s. M.M. Marine Services (Pvt) Ltd filed Vessel Information Report (VIR) regarding arrival of vessel MV Virginia in the Customs Computerized System and gave ETA as 6/11/2014. It means the vessel was scheduled to arrive on 6/11/2014; there-fore, the WeBOC System allocated IGM to this vessel.

As per available record the ship arrived in Pakistan on 12/11/2014 and berthed at the terminal FAP on 19/11/2014. It was de-berthed on 22/11/2014 before goods could be off-loaded as the ship was berthed out of turn, as explained by the management of FAP. The ship reberthed on 29/ 11/2014. The log book and correspondence of the ship was retrieved from the ship on 02/12/2014 and found that right in the beginning master of vessel set ETA of the vessel for Pakistan as 13/11/2014. It remained the same after calling a port of Egypt it was amended to 12/11/2014 as per log book of the ship.

There is no mention on the log book anywhere that the ETA for Pakistan would be 6/ 1 1/2014. It was deliberately filed by the shipping agent M/s. M.M. Marine Services (Pvt) Ltd as 6/11/2014 instead of I2/11/2014 because he knew that System would pick up ETA date as IGM date and section-30 of Customs Act, 1969 in case of manual filing and section 30A ibid, in case of computerized filing, says that where GDs are filed before filing of IGM cut-off date for calculation of duties and taxes will be the date of IGM. Regulatory duty at 20% ad valorem was levied vide Government of Pakistan’s notification

Therefore, the shipping agent, who was one of the importers in this case, knew that any date of IGM on or after 07/11/2014 would render wheat subject to levy of regulatory duty. Therefore, he deliberately and with mala fide intentions mentioned date 6/1 1/2014 instead of 12/11/2014.