KARACHI: Collector MCC Appraisement West Mohammad Saleem has urged the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to take up the initiation of proceedings by FIA at appropriate levels.

FIA has booked 76 Customs officials including principal appraisers, appraisers and examining officers based on their self-interpreted stance that pharmaceutical raw material could not be imported and cleared with a certificate from the Drug regulatory Authority of Pakistan.

Sources said that a high level meeting between FBR and FIA is likely in the coming week to deliberate on the issue.

Mohammad Saleem in a letter to Member Customs, FBR, reiterated that import of pharmaceutical (allopathic) raw materials of pharmaceutical grade in the form of unprocessed ingredients is allowed subject to fulfillment of conditions stipulated vide serial No. 7 of Part-II of Appendix-B to the Import Policy Order, 2013 (IPO).

These conditions have been in place in previous IPOs as well and Customs being the implementing agency has been and is still allowing release to said goods as per stipulated law while ensuring that importing pharmaceutical industries were holding valid pharmaceutical manufacturing license issued by the Drugs Regulatory Authorities; Pharmaceutical (allopathic) raw materials were of pharmaceutical grade and imported raw materials had at least 75 percent of the shelf life calculated from the date of filing of IGM.

In the year 2014, the Federal Investigation Agency (HA), made out a case against a unit, namely M/s Intervac Pvt. Ltd, and subsequently took the stance that each consignment of pharmaceutical raw materials required an independent, consignment wise, permission from Federal Drug Department and mere holding of a pharmaceutical manufacturing license was not enough.

However, Collectorate’s unequivocal stance on the subject, based on age old practice as well as explicit provisions of the IPO, is that on fulfillment of conditions detailed above pharmaceutical raw materials can be allowed customs clearance and submission of permission for each consignment of such raw material imported by licensed manufactures is not warranted.

Meanwhile, the Board referred the matter to the Ministry of Commerce and in turn the Ministry has requested comments thereon from the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), hence, final response of the Ministry is still awaited.

However, despite that FIA, Lahore, has stuck to its own interpretation and had issued summons to move 76 officials of Karachi Customs in June, 2014.

In this connection two of senior Principal Appraisers from Custom House, Karachi, appeared before FIA officials at Lahore and recorded their statements as per stance explained above.

Presently, a more serious development has been the issuance of non-bailable arrest warrants, on request of FIA, by the judicial magistrate, District Court, Lahore, which obviously is cause of grave concern for all officials.

“Since Collectorate’s stance on the issue is quite clear, as per explicit provision of IPO, and in any case final reply from the Ministry of Commerce, the regulating authority of IPO is still awaited, therefore, initiation of proceedings by FIA against said Customs officials needs to be addressed at appropriate level by the Board specially keeping in view the bar against such proceedings laid down under section 217 of the Custom Act, 1969,” Mohammad Saleem added.

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