KARACHI: The All Pakistan Customs Agents Associated has prayed to Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to repeal the recently introduced amendment in Customs Act, 1969, which requires the owner of any imported goods to make entry of such goods for transshipment by filing a true declaration of goods, giving therein complete and correct particulars of such goods, duly supported by commercial invoice, bill of lading or airway bill, packing list or any other document required for clearance of such goods.

Shams Ahmed Burney, Chairman All Pakistan Customs Agents Association, in a letter to Chairman FBR said the main object of creating up-country dry ports was to facilitate the trade i.e. imports, exports and the industry at their door step; further to promote the employment at each corner of Pakistan.

“With the passage of time numbers of dry ports were established in major cities of trade activities across the country. This helped in reducing port congestion at the seaports at Karachi being the only port in Pakistan. Need not to say that delay in clearance of goods for any good reason directly affects the cost of doing business. The establishments of dry ports in different cities granted not only equal level of play field for the people engaged with the clearance of goods from Customs, living near sea port or at dry ports in other cities away from the seaports; but also helped the trade & industry to choose clearing agents of their choice, who are easily accessible to them; and in case of any dispute with Customs for the description of goods the clearing agents and the consignees are comfortably available to Customs for assistance,” Burney said.

The induction of the subject amendment in Section 79 of Customs Act, 1969 has raised sense of insecurities among the clearing agents community, as this would ruin the business and livelihood of thousands of clearing agents, who are settled and established at dry ports in different cities of Pakistan for over 25 years.

The proposed law will deprive the custom clearing agents of up country dry ports to earn their livelihood with this amendment.

It is worth mentioning that only the Customs bonded Carrier Licensee is eligible to file TP (Transshipment Permit), which would be taken as GD. The proposed law binds customs bonded carrier to declare and assess for transshipment permit is against the spirit of their licenses as their major field of business is to transport bonded cargo from one port to other ports.

Sources said that the amendment was introduced in view of severe misuse of the TP, which was causing huge revenue loss to the exchequer. However, this amendment has put the clearing agents at risk.

Burney noted that Section 121 of Customs Act 1969 specifies TP as application for transfer of goods through customs bonded carriers to up country dry ports. The captioned amendment will divert all import/export clearance business to Karachi seaport and it would diminish the purpose of dry ports and the entity of the Collectorates.

It is pertinent to mention here that bonded carriers are very few in numbers, whereas more than 5000 licensed clearing agents along with their employees and their families, are engaged in clearing & forwarding in all up country dry ports.

“This newly introduced amendment will not only abolish all clearing agents of up county dry ports but also effect the employment of thousands of peoples including sub-agents, laborers and local transporters,” Burney said.

“It is very humbly prayed to intervene in the matter and order to withdraw the subject amendment of Clause 2(4)(a) under Section 79 in the Finance Bill 2015-16 in the interest of survival of up country dry ports and the clearing agents,” Shams Burney said.