ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken notice of corrupt practices underway at check posts of various agencies including Customs, Rangers, Coast Guards, Police and FC etc, which has increased cost of transportation and cost of doing business in the country. According to a letter issued by Prime Minister Secretariat to all concerned, “It has been brought to the notice of the Prime Minister by different sources that there is rampant rent seeking from goods transport in the country by plethora of agencies such as Police, Excise, Customs, Rangers, FC, Coast Guard etc., through the mechanism of check posts established at National Highways i.e. Karachi - Torkhum route, Karachi - Chaman route etc”. The letter notes that apart from increasing the cost of transportation and doing business, this extortion, in the garb of law enforcement, security, narcotics checking creates inconvenience for public, corrupts the society as a whole and brings a bad name to the country and government machinery. “This exercise of getting illegal gratification and extortion is ample proof of either weak supervisory regime or implied condonation and connivance of this activity. In case of the former, efficiency in terms of E&D rules becomes questionable and in case of latter being true, it can be safely presumed that the money so collected through illegal means is shared with upper hierarchy at different levels”. Taking serious notice of the issue, Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed that standard operating procedures (SOPs) be revised and developed by respective organization, government to check and root out this problem. PM has ordered that number of check posts be reduced where possible and rationalized in coordination with other stakeholders and organizations who have established check posts nearby and be converted into multi-agency common check posts; and supervisory role be made effective. PM has ordered to complete the advised exercise no later than October 5, 2019. Simultaneously, an evidence based survey is being commissioned to get specifics vis-à-vis modus operandi for this illegal extortion regime and to put a quantitative tag on the issue. After October 5th, action would be initiated against, not only the ground staff of various check posts, but more importantly against supervisory officers, which could include administrative head of the ministry, organization, department concerned. “In cases where no action is taken against the supervisory officer by the concerned administrative officer, action will be initiated against Chief Secretaries / IGs / DGs as the case may be. All concerned shall, therefore, take immediate action to implement the above directions and a report thereof shall be submitted within the given timeline for perusal of the Prime Minister,” it said. It may be mentioned here that there has been a significant increase in the influx of smuggled and non-duty-paid goods in the country after the government imposed certain restrictions and additional taxes to reduce imports. However, these measures proved to be counter-productive as goods which used to be legally imported are now being smuggled depriving the government of revenue. Notorious smugglers have developed across country networks with the support and connivance of Customs, Police and border security forces. Consignments of smuggled goods including contrabands are easily being smuggled and distributed across country, thus proving all government efforts to curb smuggling futile.