KARACHI: Government is losing revenue to the tune of billions of rupees as hundreds of containers of spices, betel nuts, dry fruits and other edibles are stuck at ports waiting clearance after Ministry of Commerce vide SRO. 1067(I)/2018 added several safety health and procedural requirements in the Import Policy Order.

Ministry of Commerce linked import of around 600 items including edibles, spices, fruits, dry fruits, grains etc. with quarantine certification of Animal Quarantine Department and phytosanitary certification and plant protection release order of Ministry of National food Security and Research.

An importer said that they were approaching the concerned departments to get the permits and required certifications but the permits were not being issued owing to lengthy procedures.

Sources in Customs said the government was loosing revenue to the tune of billions of rupees as hundreds of containers were stuck at ports as import of these products is completely blocked.

However, the goods included in the said SRO are still finding their way into the country but through smuggling.

Khaipyas are bringing spices, dry fruits and betel nuts through airports while movement of these goods has increased via Kashmir, Quetta and Wahgah borders.

Confectionary manufacturers, convenient food and spices manufacturers are also facing trouble as their raw material inventories are declining fast and this would adversely affect the exports. An official at a food company said they would not be able to meet export orders if the issue was not solved in two weeks.

Government is loosing revenues of to the tune of billion of rupees while these goods are still coming but through the smuggling.

Sources said it was the tactics of some elements in the government to mint money in a very safe manner. The importers were being bothered and soon these elements would make the deals and afterwards the conditions were eased.

It was also known that scores of containers of betel nuts, spices and dry fruits had arrived at the ports for Afghanistan via transit trade. Director Transit Trade Zeba Azhar, Additional Director Abdul Haye Sheikh, Deputy Collector Rana Kamran in a meeting decided that consignments of these goods would not be cleared as these were prone to smuggling back to the country. It is worth mentioning here that these goods were not used to be imported for Afghanistan.

Collector Quetta Ashraf Ali has also alerted the preventive and anti-smuggling staff to be vigilant on the import clearance from Chaman border.