NAB taking over investigations into misuse of concessionary SROs

KARACHI: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has taken over the investigations into the misuse of concessionary SROs including SRO 1125(I)/2011 and SRO 655(I)/2006. The misuse of concessionary regime has caused irreparable loss to the national economy.

Sources said NAB would investigate misuse of the SROs, submission of bogus pay orders, refunds against flying invoices, and registration of bogus companies with Inland Revenue as manufacturers.

It may be mentioned here that after the revelations by Indian spy Kulbushan Yadav that Indian agencies were targeting Pakistan’s economy primarily through smuggling, under-invoicing, over-invoicing, Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) and money laundering etc, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had advised a sensitive agency to eliminate the ‘financial terrorism’.

It was on their recommendation, the concessionary SRO 1125 was abolished. The cases are now being forwarded to NAB for further investigations.

To recall, Directorate of Customs Intelligence & Investigation Karachi has recently lodged 26 FIRs against certain importers for evading legitimate government revenue Rs705.29 million by misusing and illegally claiming benefit of SRO 655(I)/2006.

The scrutiny of the data revealed that these importers were involved in misuse of the customs duty concession notified vide SRO 655(1)/2006, for importer-cum-manufactures of components and assemblies for different vehicles (1% concessionary duty as against the statutory rate of 20%), subject to fulfillment of the specified conditions, through mis-declaration of description, size and grade of the imported raw materials.

The mechanism adopted in this fraudulent activity was submission of commercial invoice with one description and filing of GD (Goods of Declaration) with another description. Customs examination of these consignments was also not carried out in GDs cleared through green & yellow channels.

The Engineering Development Board (EDB) had, under provisions of the SRO, allowed quota for concessionary import of electro-galvanized steel sheet in coils whereas the actual import, as per invoice, was hot-dipped galvanized sheet in coils.

Similarly, the EDB allowed quota for concessionary import of prime quality steel sheets, and with particular thickness, but actual import was of secondary quality goods (without mill test certification specifying any grade) and of different thickness. The extent of evasion of duty & taxes through this fraud is about Rs750 million.

Another disturbing aspect that has emerged during the investigation is that these import cum manufacturers after availing the benefit of SRO 655(1)12006, sold the goods in the markets as commercial importers without any manufacturing.

Similarly, several cases of misuse of SRO 1125(I)/2011 were lodged, wherein the culprits got dummy companies registered with Inland Revenue, and on the basis of their registration as manufacturers , these companies availed undue benefits causing loss to the national exchequer.

It is interesting to note, never any official of EDB or Inland Revenue were nominated in cases or were ever involved in the investigations. NAB will also investigate abnormal changing of jurisdictions of the companies by Inland Revenue, against which, the recoveries were created. Even the zones of blacklisted companies were changed and they were given clean chit.

Sources said the Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) Agreement was also being revisited, as this has been against the interests of Pakistan.

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