KARACHI: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has asked MCC Appraisement East to provide import data relating to import of used clothing in the past one and a half year as investigations are proceeding fast in the case of clearance of high value and restricted goods in the garb of used clothing.
NAB has demanded the I-Forms relating to the import of used clothing consignments, the channel these consignments were cleared from as well as details regarding importers, clearing agents and Customs Assessment staff clearing the used clothing consignments.
Sources said Customs staff was not involved in the scam. One container of used clothing attracts taxes of Rs150,000 at most and Customs collect ‘speed money’ of Rs5,000 to Rs15,000 on one container. Speed money is a sum mutually agreed upon between Customs and importers, which only expedites the clearance process.
Bribes are usually larger amounts of money. If it is found in the investigations that officers and officials got more for the clearance of used clothing consignments, they may be involved.
NAB investigations are headed in the right direction, but the investigators are missing the deeper point. This is not a case of corruption but financial terrorism.
To recall, Indian spy Kalbushan Yadav had told the investigation agencies how the Pakistan’s economy and finances were targeted; Yadav named one Asad, who was an importer and had formed several companies including M/s Royal Packages.
M/s Reliable Associates, M/s Vital Trade International, M/s Shahab Traders, M/s Vinsome Packages and M/s Royal Packages were misusing concessionary SROs to evade government revenue worth billions of rupees. Asad was arrested by intelligence agencies.
An official said it was all a scheme. In the previous regime, unwarranted actions including show cause notices, FIRs against genuine importers were lodged, which discouraged genuine importers. In the name of facilitations rules were relaxed to benefit a cartel of around 20 persons. These people had been in Customs frauds and evasion for many years.
Scrap and used clothing was included in the green channel facility and these importers were granted green channel status in violation of rules and regulations.
It may be mentioned here that smuggling through borders is very expensive, and it does not affect government revenue a lot. But, smuggling through Customs i.e. misuse of green channel facility, mis-declaration and replacement of transshipment cargo, and now replacement of containerized cargo at terminals, is easy and cheap.
It is to be mentioned here that since the crackdown on import of used clothing, there has been shortage of imported alcohol in the country and the prices have shot up. Similarly, betel nut, auto parts and electronics are also in short supply and the prices have surged many a fold. Betel nut, which was Rs450/kg a couple of months back is now Rs950/kg in the market.
NAB and other agencies are conducting investigations, but they are not aware of the technical details. The affairs at Pakistan Customs and Inland Revenue need to be investigated from a different angle i.e. facilitation of financial terrorism, which analysts have termed a new weapon, a very effective one, against Pakistan.
The state had eliminated the anti-social and anti-state elements from within the country through various operations. However, nothing effective or decisive was made against financial terrorism.
It is said that Pakistan has been brought to this stage through a pre-planned scheme and rogue elements at every sector and every department and every institution enabled it. Sources said that the elements in civil and non-civil bureaucracy had been playing at the hands of unseen forces and implementing the anti-state agenda. These bureaucrats usually move to foreign countries with their families and have a lavish life abroad after retirements.
Pakistan now stands alone in the world, which is evident from the failure of Pakistan’s resolution in favor of Indian Occupied Kashmir. It is not the diplomatic failure but a scheme. Unless the country is financially strong, there would be no worth.