Importers and agents oppose harsh penalties for absence of invoice in the container

KARACHI: Finance Bill has proposed very harsh penalties on importers and clearing agents in case of absence of invoice of the goods in the container of the very goods. So far, the fine for missing invoice is Rs5,000.

Finance Bill has proposed that a fine of Rs100,000 would be imposed on the importer if the invoice was not found in the container for the first time; Rs500,000 for the second time and Rs1.0 million if the offense was repeated for the third time. However, if the offence was repeated for the fourth time, the consignment would be outright confiscated and the WeBOC of the importer/agent would be suspended for a year.

An official said the authorities proposed such fines and penalties on importers for absence of the invoice in the container to discourage under-invoicing, mis-declaration and money laundering.

However, the importers have expressed serious concerns over this proposal adding that this would be counter-productive and open another door for corruption and harassment of importers by the officials.

Rizwan Kaka of Kaka Enterprises said as the fines have been proposed to be on very higher side, the Customs officials would take advantage of it and harass importers/agents to mint additional money for themselves. “It is likely that the officials would remove the invoice from the container and then blackmail the importers/agents to get Rs20,000 to Rs25,000 for themselves.”

He said the government should made it mandatory to attach the export GD, from the supplier country, with the documents in WeBOC system. He said that the invoice in the container was not a reliable document as suppliers would pin the invoice mentioning any rate as demanded by the importers. However, copy of export GD would be an authentic and reliable document.

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