A rift between Inland Revenue Service (IRS) and Pakistan Customs Service (PCS) has always been there, and it has always dented the reputation and performance of the institutions.
This time it is much more visible with Chairman FBR Dr. Ashfaq Ahmed (IRS) and Member Customs Tariq Huda (PCS) coming across each other.
Tariq Huda is a BS-21 officer of PCS and is all set to be promoted in BS-22 as soon as the High Power Board (HPB) convenes. Huda’s promotion in BS-22 will make him a contender for the office of Chairman FBR Dr. Ashfaq. Dr. Ashfaq is also likely to be promoted to BS-22.
Tariq Huda is a very competent and high-profile officer and has delivered exemplary performance as Member Customs. Under his supervision, Customs achieved the highest ever revenue of Rs4.7 trillion last year, while revenues from anti-smuggling activities clocked in north of Rs5.0 billion.
Moreover, Tariq Huda is the driving force behind the Pakistan Single Window (PSW), which is scheduled to go live in June 2022. PSW would be a revolutionary system in cross-border trade facilitation.
In view of these achievements, Prime Minister Imran Khan lauded Huda, while Senate Committee and National Assembly Committee also appreciated Tariq Huda and the performance of Pakistan Customs.
Such deeds don’t go un-noticed. Pakistan Customs’ anti-smuggling campaign, measures against mis-declaration and under-invoicing etc., earned Customs and particularly Tariq Huda several adversaries.
Chairman FBR Dr. Ashfaq Ahmed, a BS-21 officers of IRS, seems insecure because of Tariq Huda. Sources said Chairman FBR is now more focused on in-house conspiracies against Pakistan Customs, which has seriously under-mined the anti-smuggling campaign of the Customs, as well as PM Imran Khan’s policy of securing government revenue.
Sources said issues and cases were purposely being framed against Customs officers such as Tariq Huda and Member Customs Policy Saeed Jadoon. A years old case pertaining to import from Iran was opened, wherein Customs Intelligence and Investigation had prepared a report that government exchequer suffered losses due to under-invoicing and non-implementation of Valuation Ruling on import of pistachio and other products from Iran during 2017.
Customs Intelligence and Investigation detected a couple of consignment in which European confectionary was cleared in the garb of Irani goods. Based on these few cases, I&I concluded that such mis-declaration and under-invoicing was on since 2017 and projected revenue loss of billions of rupees since 2017.
Based on this report, Chairman FBR Dr. Ashfaq formed a committee comprising Seema Bukhari (BS-21) and Fayyaz Rasool (BS-20) to investigate the case. The committee submitted the report effectively dismissing the I&I report regarding revenue loss. It may be mentioned that imports from borders are governed under local Valuation Ruling issued by the clearance collectorate. Moreover, most of the imports from Iran and Afghanistan are in local currency, hence foreign exchange is saved.
Dissatisfied with the finding of the committee, Chairman FBR advised Seema Bukhari and Fayyaz Rasool to fix the responsibility on Customs officers in this so called revenue loss. Subsequently, Member Customs Policy Saeed Jadoon was nominated in the fact-finding report as responsible for the alleged leniency.
Sources said about two months ago, Chairman FBR had assured Seema Bukhari that she would be appointed Member Customs Operations in place of Tariq Huda, while Chief Collector Lahore Chaudry Zulfiqar was tempted with the office of Director General Customs Intelligence and Investigation.
Similarly, the issue of the import of MG vehicles (Chinese brand) was also raised to which Customs responded that all duties and taxes were collected in line with the laws and rules. Despite, the Contravention Report prepared by the Customs and case in Adjudication, Chairman FBR became a party to the case against MG Motors, which in fact is against Member Customs.
It is interesting to note that Chairman FBR Dr. Ashfaq belongs to 19 CTP, while Tariq Huda belongs to 17 CTP. Both are in BS-19. Even more interesting to note is that Director General I&I Abdul Rasheed Shaikh belongs to 14 CTP, and a BS-22 officer, and still he is reporting to a BS-21 officer of IRS i.e. Chairman FBR Dr. Ashfaq.
Sources said the strike of traders in Quetta is the latest episode of this conspiracy against Customs.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Quetta Balochistan President Fida Hussain Dashti and Senior Vice President Mohammad Ayub Mariani said the baseless cases against persons associated with Balochistan’s export and import sectors should be withdrawn and Director Customs Intelligence should change his attitude. Backed by certain quarters, they also threatened to block highways.