Pakistan Customs not equipped to meet CPEC challenge

KARACHI: Pakistan Customs is not at all equipped to undertake import/export clearance along with anti smuggling operations on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPC) route, and needs enhancement of its administrative, technical and operational capacity to live up to the challenge coming up.

Chief Collector Enforcement South Mohammad Zahid Khokhar in his presentation before Senate’s Standing Committee  gave a brief overview of Customs and explained the challenges coming up for Pakistan Customs in respect to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (EPEC).

Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics & Privatization visited Customs House Karachi on Thursday and received several briefings pertaining to the workings of different formations.

“Adequate presence of Customs at entry and exit points is essential while special economic zones (SEZs) on the route need to be properly monitored by Customs,” Zahid Khokhar said.

“Managing Transit Trade through CPEC is a challenge for Customs with existing infrastructure and human resource, which is already impeded with shortage of man power and logistics ,” Khokhar added.

Khokhar said additional workforce and resource allocation was direly needed along with adequate training and capacity building of Customs.

Chief Collector Enforcement South Mohammad Zahid Khokhar in his presentation gave a brief overview of Customs and explained the jurisdiction of Enforcement South. He informed that ‘enforcement’ was the primary function of the Chief Collectorate and added that smuggled and non-duty goods worth Rs5.723 billion were seized during 2015-16 as compared to the seizures of Rs1.638 billion in the previous year. A revenue of Rs935 million was also realized through the auction of seized goods. In addition to that smuggled diesel worth Rs364 million was also seized and revenue of Rs282 million was realized through the auction of the same.

Zahid Khokhar said that Enforcement South had eliminated en-route pilferage of transshipment (TP) cargo, which was the primary source of smuggling goods into the country causing huge economic losses to the nation, smuggling of non-duty paid goods as well as contrabands through the pilgrim buses was also controlled to a maximum extent. He also explained the workings of Customs Enforcement at Jinnah International Airport.

Presentation prepared by Chief Collectorate Appraisement South summarized the role of Pakistan Customs along with the jurisdiction and performance of the Chief Collectorate and measures taken to facilitate trade.

China remained the major trading partner of Pakistan during 2015-16 and a revenue collection of Rs258.958 billion was made on imports from China. As much s Rs103.7 billion were collected on imports of vehicles.

Appraisement South surpassed its revenue collection by 10 percent during 2015-16 collecting 901.895 billion, which is 23 percent higher than the previous year’s collection.

A risk management system had been put in place with 24/7 operations while dwell time of cargo had been reduces, staff activity was monitored along with an open door policy for complaint redress. Regular liaison was also maintained with trade bodies.

Chief Collectorate was operating with shortage of human resource, logistics in an incentive-less environment.

Director Reforms and Automation Dr. Fareed Iqbal Qureshi , Collector Preventive Saifuddin Junejo and Director Transit Trade Wajid Ali apprised the Standing Committee about the workings and challenges faced by their respective formations. Wajid Ali said that only 5.0 percent of transit trade was examined while 20 percent was scanned, therefore Directorate had installed a computerized cross-checking system to validate the transit trade with Afghan Customs.

FBR’s Representative DR. Naeem Akhtar gave a presentation about the Integrated Transit Trade Management System which aims to automate and integrate all Customs stations. He informed that three border processing complexes (BPCs) would be setup at Chamman, Torkham and Wahgah borders having all the relevant agencies under one roof. Asian Development Bank (ADB) is assisting Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in this project.

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