FTO’s recommendations not implemented despite lapse of two years

KARACHI: Despite lapse of two years since Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Abdul Rauf Chaudry recommended for Customs to develop a specific module in WeBOC to enable external stakeholders accessing necessarily valuation data (90-days data) , the concerned authorities have not developed such a module in WeBOC.

The FTO had recommended in 2014 for Customs to develop a specific module in Customs computerized system titled WeBOC to enable the external stakeholders’ access to necessary valuation data in terms of item description (complete in all respects), declared and assessed unit value, keeping it strictly within the domain of confidentiality through non disclosure of party particulars.

FTO had also recommended for Customs to proactively provide to the importer/exporter the relevant valuation data and intimate the method used for determination of value without disclosing the party particulars, and report compliance within forty five days.

However, the concerned Customs authorities have not developed any such access and external stakeholders including importers, exporters and clearing agents are denied access to evidential valuation data of past 90 days.

The FTO had received this complainant that roll out of WeBOC computerized system had placed a barrier on provision of valuation information to the external stakeholders, i.e. importers and clearing agents, as there was no module through which they could gain access to valuation data to ascertain whether or not the importers/exporters were being treated fairly and uniformly by the Customs functionaries.

Lack of access to valuation data placed the external stakeholders at a disadvantage in case if a valuation dispute which might lead exploitation and corruption by the unscrupulous among the Customs functionaries.

MCC Appraisement Lahore contended that the importers did not need general access to valuation data as they were required under the law to declare correct valuations.

After detailed deliberation, FTO Abdul Rauf Chaudry observed denial of access of importers, exporters and the clearing agents to evidential valuation data relied upon by Customs Officers to determine assessable value was unreasonable, unjust and unfair. Such a denial handicaps an importer in fairly resolving disputes and preparation of appeals in case the valuation disputes are not resolved at the operational level, it thus, constitutes maladministration of the Ordinance.

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