Imports via electronic I-Form only to be processed: Pakistan Customs

KARACHI: Pakistan Customs has made it clear that only the consignments imported through the electronic I-Form would be released and any consignments arriving the ports with the electronic I-Form would not be released.

Talking to Customnews.pk, a senior officer said the I-Form mechanism was in place since 1947 and now the system has been digitized in the WeBOC system. The official said the law does not allow clearance of import consignments without the fulfillment of the I-Form formality.

Earlier, the transactions were processed manually and it was not possible to track and record all transactions, which opened the way for imports against payments through informal channels such as Hawala and Hundi.

The officer made it clear that there would be no relaxation and concession in this regard and no consignment without the proper filing of electronic I-Form would be processed. However, if there is any issue with the electronic module, the same would be resolved accordingly.

Malik Bostan said that with the implementation of electronic I-Form module the demand by Hawala and Hundi operators would decline and the dollar rates would ease further. He said that it was their recommendation to the finance ministry to curb informal and illagl transfer of foreign exchange and stabilize the forex market.

He said that according to data issued by Chinese authorities, China exported goods worth $16 billion to Pakistan while the data with Pakistani authorities suggest Import from China of $11 billion.

Bostan said the workers’ remittances to Pakistan would also increase as earlier the Hawala and Hundi operators used to deal with overseas Pakistanis and received forex them abroad and made payments to their relatives in Pakistan in Pak rupees. The electronic I-Form would end this practice and flow of remittances would increase.

On the other hand, the importers and clearing agents are in a fix as most of their legitimate import consignments are stuck-up. A clearing agent said as per the practice more than one orders were raised against a single invoice. The agent said I-Form was issued against the invoice and importers were unable to get their goods release.

The agent further informed that several goods arrive free of charge i.e. as samples or complementary additions to certain orders. Since no payments were issued against these goods, GD could not be filed and goods were stuck up.

The agent said importers and agents were facing a big problem and they had approached office in this regard, but their woes were not being addressed.

It may be mentioned here that a number of Importers are unable to file Goods Declaration (GD) because they did not make payments through the formal channels and cannot meet the requirements of I-Form. The official said that there would be no relaxation or time extension for such consignments.

In order to effectively monitor imports into Pakistan, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Pakistan Customs have successfully launched and implemented Electronic Import From (EIF) Module in WeBOC (Web Based One Custom), the IT system of Pakistan Customs from September 1, 2016. The said Module has been developed in consultation with all the relevant stakeholders including the importers, clearing agents, bankers, etc.

Well before the launch of EIF Module, a series of awareness sessions were conducted by a joint team of SBP and Pakistan Customs at leading Chambers of Commerce throughout the country during the last five months. During awareness sessions, it was mentioned at all forums that the importers shall be filing the EIF using their existing IDs in WeBOC which they also use for filling the Goods Declaration. Thus, no additional formalities on this account are involved.

It is worth mentioning that the Module was widely publicized by SBP and Pakistan Customs through public notices, press release etc in the media. Further, comprehensive training sessions for Authorized Dealers (ADs) have also been conducted by SBP to train the relevant bank staff of southern, central and northern regions of the country. Thus, importers may contact respective branches of ADs or Pakistan Customs’ help desks at various Collectorates around the country.

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