KARACHI: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has extended the suspension of MCC Port Qasim appraising staff, suspended in connection with the assessment and clearance of consignment of ‘wheat’ without payment of regulatory duty, for another 90 days without conducting any inquiry or fact finding exercise.

The suspended appraising staff including Principal Appraiser Asad Aleem and Appraising Officers Ghulam Yaseen, Noor Muhammad Kalwar, Anis-ur-Rehman Khoso, Sareeruddin and Qamar Mubeen has approached Collector Port Qasim requesting an independent and impartial Fact Finding Committee to investigate the role of appraising staff in the scam.

The suspended appraising staff requested that the fact finding committee should comprise some experienced senior officers particularly who knows the system and if possible from the Directorate of WeBOC Project with sole terms of reference to determine their role in the case so that justice could find its place in whole episode.

According to details of the case, relevant Goods Declarations for clearance of wheat were filed on 06.11.2014 whilst the notification whereby the regulatory duty was levied was admittedly issued on 07.11.2014 as such neither the WeBOC Computerized System calculated the Regulatory Duty which was otherwise levied on 07.11.2014, nor it was blinking in the system/screen appearing before the assessing officers, though the assessment was made on 21.11.2014 upon examination of the impugned goods.

WeBOC read the date of “Goods Declaration” viz-a-viz date of levy of duty and taxes. Neither the system was indicating that the relevant IGM had been cancelled or altered and it did not issue any sort of “Alert” in this regard.

It is beyond imagination to conclude that the assessing officer while making online assessment could even suspect that the vessel in question had not actually arrived and as such the IGM is required to be re-called. The sole information of non arrival of vessel and/or non compliance of customs rules by the shipping agent in its letter was only available to the import section of the Collectorate and not to the assessing officer.

It may be mentioned here that the assessing officer is not duty bound to call IGM or to physically confirm the actual birthing of the vessel.

As the crux of the case is that the IGM was filed on the basis of false “ETA” on 06.11.2014 and on same day the GDs were filed whereas, actually the vessel arrived much later then the ETA and thus escaped from levy of Regulatory Duty imposed on 07.11.2014 which otherwise could not be escaped if the IGM and the Goods Declarations had been cancelled on non arrival of vessel as per ETA.

Therefore, due to this system fault and/or negligence any other organ of the Collectorate the concerned importers evaded the duty in very tactful manner and by technically knocking out the system.

They said that they were made escape goats to cover the in-built fault in the system and requested to constitute an impartial fact finding committee to investigate the details of the scam.

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