KARACHI: Perusal of official data suggests that Pakistan’s import of several items from Iran and Afghanistan increased drastically in the first nine months of the current fiscal year, which creates doubts that goods other than declared were being cleared through mis-declaration.
For instance, import of grams (dry whole) through Taftan Custom House surged to Rs1.098 billion in the first nine months of the current fiscal year (July 2014-March 2015) as compared with the import of same commodity worth just Rs11.837 million.
Similarly, import of apples from Iran during 9MFY15 stood at Rs448.876 million as compared to the import of apples worth Rs12.49 million in the same period last year.
Sources said that serious violations of rules and laws were noticed at Custom house Taftan while mis-declaration of classification and weight as well as under-invoicing has also been reported.
Meanwhile, there are certain products whose imports have observed significant decline during the period under review. The import of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Iran during 9MFY15 declined to Rs2.696 billion as against the imports of Rs4.776 billion in the same period last year.
Sources said that various products whose imports are subject to verification and/or certification are being cleared without the certificates. LPG import is subject to a certification by OGRA, but the commodity is being cleared without any such certification from Taftan.
Import of waste, parings and scrap of other plastics declined to Rs4.366 in 9MFY15 as against the import of Rs105.67 million in the same period last year.
Unscrupulous importers in connivance with clearing agents and Customs officials were inflicting a huge loss to the economy. It was known that through proper documentation but mis-declaration, 50 percent of duty and taxes were being evaded on transshipment to MCC Quetta from Customs House Taftan.
The import of tiles surged drastically to Rs362.111 million in the first nine-months of the current fiscal year as against the import of tiles worth Rs17.802 million in the same period last year.
Sources said ceramics importers were willfully mis-declaring size and quantity of the goods in order to evade duty/taxes. Several measures including FIRs and penalties were imposed but the practice is still going on.
Import of waste and scrap of iron and steel from Iran also surged drastically to Rs1.05 billion during 9MFY15 as against imports of the same commodity worth Rs730.829 billion in the same period last year. Sources said that iron and steel sheets/coils and auto parts were being imported in the name of waste and a huge loss is being inflicted on the exchequer.
It is interesting to note that majority of the products are being imported from Iran, which are not even produced or manufactured in Iran.
The data suggests that large quantity of fresh vegetables and fruits is being imported from Afghanistan via MCC Torkham worth billions of rupees. Sources said these vegetables are grossly misdeclared in terms of weight.
Fresh grapes worth Rs3.978 billion were imported from Afghanistan during 9MFY15 as against import of fresh grapes worth Rs1.59 billion in the same period last year.
Imports from Afghanistan have always been questionable. A large number of goods imported by Afghanistan through Afghan Transit Trade find their way in Pakistan. Besides, huge quantity of NATO/ISAF scrap and waste is also imported in Pakistan which is then supplied to industrial establishments in Punjab.
Pakistan imported coal worth Rs5.752 billion during 9MFY15 as against Rs5.483 billion in the same period last year. Similarly, cotton imports from Afghanistan during the period under review stood at Rs5.148 billion as against Rs7.729 billion last year.