KARACHI: The rivalry between Customs Intelligence and Investigation and Customs has gotten severe, which is now impacting the revenue collection of Customs Collectorates. Due to the rift between I&I Islamabad and MCC Islamabad, operations at Islamabad Dry Port remained suspended in the last few days of June causing short revenue collection of Rs350 million.

An officials said I&I Islamabad asked AC Dry Port to block a certain consignment as the I&I had information of revenue evasion. However, the information was incorrect and yet I&I Islamabad caused unnecessary rather intentional delays.

Moreover, One Syed Najam Shah, who has made quite a name for himself for all the wrong reasons, arrived at the Dry Port Islamabad inside the Customs Area, in a double cabin with an escort of six sepoys to assert the influence. Najam Shah claims he works in ASO of I&I Islamabad.

Collector MCC Islamabad note facts and subsequent actions by the l&I, which were nothing but disruptive, paint a different picture and lay bare the hollow nature of the above claim, particularly during the last ten days of the financial year.

There has been a constant barrage of finger-pointing and accusations by the l&I centered around the Islamabad Dry-Port, which is, resultantly, fast becoming an apology for one.

In his report Collector MCC Islamabad said Islamabad Dry Port has been held hostage by a few lOs for far too long — it is a place where sons of serving lOs are running clearing agencies, and one wonders how a level playing field is made available to their competitors, and how objective is the Intelligence and information being disseminated by them — this Is an apparent case of conflict of interest and they remain the permanent establishment.

“Since becoming the Collector, I have actively discouraged them and will move for cancellation of their licenses, given it is legally permissible”. Collector Customs said it will take time to rebuild the confidence of trade in the Dry Port.

On the 30th of June, the last day of the financial year only two containers could be opened for examination. The rest of the Clearing Agents and Importers, given the current uncertain circumstances, have gone on a wait and see policy.

On the last working day of the financial year, the Collectorate is around Rs. 350 million short of its assigned target and is probably the only Collectorate in the country that has not achieved its target. The role of Directorate of l&I in this cannot be understated.

It is the fact that neither the Collectorate, and especially not the l&I, hold the centre stage — it is held by the importer — who has risked his capital, will be paying the duty and taxes, and is incurring around US$ 200/ per day per container as demurrage.

An official said it was an active lobby patronized by the senior most officer of Customs Intelligence and Investigation, which is again disrupting and interfering in the Customs operations to undermine Customs Service, which is affecting the revenue collection. Earlier, this lobby with the support of former Chairman FBR, attempted to damage certain senior Customs officers for the vested interests of it’s patron.

It may be mentioned here under Member Customs Tariq Huda, the Customs formations have collected record revenue in the outgoing fiscal year.

Sources claimed the Intelligence & Investigation officer, leading the above mentioned lobby, embezzled Rs8.6 million out of the reward money for July. Sources claimed the amount was disbursed as ghost rewards, and actually the money went to the said officer.