Lack of technological knowledge among customs officials enabling revenue evasion

KARACHI: Pakistan Customs is out of expertise and experts to determine the appropriate classifications of chemicals, advanced machinery and technological gadgets.

It may be mentioned here that the authorities ended the specialized assessment groups and experts of various fields were transferred to irrelevant formations.

Assessment staff is clearing telecom equipment, steel mill machinery, power plants, cement plants etc., under a single HS Code. Moreover, concessionary SROs are also being abused.

Several multi-national and national companies including mobile service operators are taking advantage of the ill knowledge of Customs officers/officials about the advanced technology.

They are evading duty/taxes through mis-declaring the classification of goods claiming lower duty slabs, which the officials are unable to detect.

It was known that mobile operators are importing upgrade servers and declaring them general officer servers under HS Code 8471.3020 and 8471.4190 attracting lower duty. The officer servers amounts $3,000 to $7,000 while the network upgrade servers imported by mobile operators attracts PCT 8517.6990 at the rate of 15 percent duty and tax. These upgrade servers cost $17,000 to $22,000.

An official said that an amount of Rs30-40 million is being evaded on each such consignment through misclassification.

Moreover, Transmission system and base stations are being imported from China and importers avail FTA benefit on these goods. These goods invite HS Code 62.90 attracting 20 percent duty. The FTA benefit is not applicable on these products but the officials are not aware of the technological specifications of these goods.

Besides, power plants are importing steam turbines and power generators, boilers and chillers and claim clearance under HS Code 85.02 instead of the appropriate HS Code 39.00. It may be mentioned here that boilers and chillers are locally manufactured and their imports are discouraged.

Water filter plants avail benefit if Schedule 5, 6 & 8 of the Act and avoid proper taxation.

An official informed that the experts were unavailable to determine the appropriate classifications of the imported goods. And, the importers including big names were taking advantage of this flaw.

The role of Machinery Shed Appraiser (MSA) was eliminated and the examination staff has no experts.

It may be mentioned here that whenever a Customs formation such gross mis-classification, the importers approach PCT classification committee and often the recovery created is not materialized.

It may be mentioned here that several companies are also misusing the Green Channel and causing huge revenue loss to the exchequer.

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