Legal fuel imports jump as smuggling curbed

KARACHI: A mammoth jump in import quantities of high speed diesel was observed during FY21 ended June 30, 2021 as the authorities have cracked down smuggling of diesel from neighboring Iran.

As much as 17,735 MT HSD was legally imported during FY21, seven times  higher as against 2,048 MT imported in FY20. Similarly, HSD imports during July 2021 clocked in at 35,521 MT compared with 5,875 MT in July 2020.

Pakistan aims to collect Rs610 billion from petroleum imports during the current fiscal year. An official said since the petroleum levy has been reduced to almost zero on fuels, this ambitious target of Rs610 billion would come from curbing smuggling and routing the commodity to be imported legally.

According to official data, Customs authorities collected import duty of Rs325 million on HSD during July 2021, which is multiple times higher than Rs46 million collected in July 2020.

On the instructions of PM Imran Khan, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and other agencies are observing a rigorous anti-smuggling campaign, which has reduced the inflow of non-tax-paid goods into the country to a large extent, which is reflected in rising legal imports and government revenues.

MCC Preventive Karachi is leading the anti-smuggling campaign particularly against Irani diesel. On the directive of Collector Preventive Feroz Alam Junejo, Additional Collector Haroon Malik, Deputy Collector Asim Awan, Principal Appraiser Saeed Soomro, SPS Mohammad Raees, Appraising Officer Ayaz Ahmed have efficiently handled and processed the export cargoes, as due to the efforts of MCC Preventive, the inflow of legally imported fuels has increased manifold.

It is not clear how much Iranian fuel is smuggled into Pakistan, but a 2015 estimate suggested it could be some 700,000 liters daily. Last year, Iranian officials estimated up to 11 million liters of fuel is smuggled out of their oil-rich country each day.

Pakistani officials say they want to eradicate the illegal trade through law enforcement and development projects in Balochistan. But unsuccessful efforts against the practice highlight the link between instability and underdevelopment in the vast, resource-rich region that has reeled from separatist violence, military crackdowns, and terrorist attacks.

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