Customs seeks SOPs to start verification of the legality of imported goods

KARACHI: Director General Customs Intelligence & Investigation Muhammad Zahid Khokhar has written a letter to Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Syed Shabbar Zaidi asking to provide standard operating procedure (SOPs) to start verification of import documents of imported goods with effect from 1st September.

Sources said the SOPs were being prepared and would be disseminated in a couple of days.

In a major move to launch a crackdown against smuggled goods, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) announced that special joint teams would visit major shopping areas, particularly large retailers, in major cities across the country, to check documents of imported goods available for sale to consumers.

These special teams would also visit warehouses, distributors and wholesalers to verify legality of imported goods.

The teams will check import documents of foreign goods to ensure compliance with various requirements of the law, as the board had started a phased program to combat sale of smuggled goods in the local market.

Under the Provisions of the Customs Act, 1969 FBR has powers to seek import documents for the imported goods available for sale to consumers from the person dealing in such goods.

It is reiterated that this exercise does not represent ‘raid’ on the premises or any coercive action against the traders. The purpose of this exercise is only to ensure that relevant import documents are available and foreign goods available for sale are properly backed by documents.

It has further been decided that such exercises will be undertaken on ‘test’ check basis. All teams will be conducting respective identification as being officially designated and the team will be headed by a senior person. In case if for any reason such documents are not readily available at the shops/offices then teams will provide adequate opportunity to submit the document in the respective offices/ shops after reasonable time.

Member Customs (Operations) and Member (IR-Operations) have been directed to supervise the activity and provide complete assistance to the Joint Teams wherever required. Director General (Intelligence & Investigation) Customs and Director General (Intelligence & Investigation)-Inland Revenue have also been directed to constitute Joint Teams.

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