DR MUHAMMAD NADEEM MEMONCOLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS JINNAH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT KARACHI
DR. MUHAMMAD NADEEM MEMON, COLLECTOR JIAP, KARACHI

PAKISTAN CUSTOMS: LEADER IN DOMAIN KNOWLEDGE SHARING

Knowledge sharing is the process of exchanging information, ideas, and experiences among individuals or groups. It involves sharing knowledge and expertise within an organization or team, as well as with external stakeholders. It’s a key component in Knowledge Management (KM) because it ensures knowledge transfer and expertise to individuals and teams within an organization, which can help to build a collective knowledge base. In turn, this helps to enable a culture of organizational learning and can help build a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. Knowledge sharing can help with facilitating the three types of knowledge like Tacit knowledge which is difficult to express or communicate in words, such as personal experiences, insights, and skills and is shared through face-to-face interactions, such as mentorship or on-the-job training, which allow individuals to learn through direct observation and experience. Secondly, Explicit knowledge which can be easily documented and shared, such as facts, procedures, and processes. Explicit knowledge is often shared through written documents, presentations, and formal training programs. Lastly, Implicit knowledge is embedded in the practices, processes, and culture of an organization. Implicit knowledge is often difficult to identify and capture, but it can be shared through sharing experiences, traditions, and cultural practices.  The purpose of knowledge sharing is to increase the collective knowledge and understanding of a group or organization, which can lead to improved decision making, problem solving, and innovation.  There are innumerable benefits to knowledge sharing and ways in which it is vital to organization’s  success. The knowledge sharing improves organizational alignment and brings all its employees on the same page, it increases organizational productivity, enhances knowledge retention at both individual and organizational levels, enhances communication and collaboration at both inter and intra organizational level, saves organization’s time and money and establishes competitive edge and innovation by the organization. Knowledge sharing is integral to a healthy and successful work environment. Encouraging knowledge sharing and implementing policies that facilitate it are necessary to foster such an environment and elevate organizational  culture.

However, with great potential come significant barriers that must be overcome. Significant among the barriers for knowledge sharing are creation of knowledge silos and knowledge hoarding at organizational level besides there can be lack of opportunity for knowledge sharing.

Government organizations worldwide are facing challenges as legislative, executive, and judicial bodies continue to evolve into an electronic work environment pushed by paperwork and cost reduction mandates, requirements to handle increased workloads with fewer personnel, and the rapid addition of electronic communication channels for use by taxpayers and citizens. Governments are often at the forefront of needing to adopt new approaches to electronic information management. Knowledge management tools have increasingly been recognized by most governments in the world as strategic resources within the public sector. Some of the common challenges that affect the public sectors worldwide include enhancing efficiencies across all public agencies, improving accountability, making informed decisions, enhancing collaboration and strategic partnerships with stakeholders, capturing knowledge of an aging workforce as well as improving operational excellence. It is also noted that knowledge management plays an imperative role in providing strategies and techniques to manage e-government content to make knowledge more usable and accessible. Knowledge management provides the overall strategy to manage the content of e-government by providing knowledge organization tools and techniques, monitoring knowledge contents are updated accordingly, and availing all necessary information to citizens. Among the benefits of knowledge management are enhancement of governments’ competence, raising governments’ service quality, and promotion of healthy development of e-government. In the past 15 years, a large number of public agencies has embraced knowledge management practices with the quest of creating more innovative systems to connect people to information and knowledge. There are various examples in literature highlighting the successful use of knowledge management policies and solutions at various government levels. A challenge in the adoption of diverse knowledge management initiatives in the public sector is changing organizational culture.

Today’s complex and demanding work environments require collaborative organizations particularly in the public sector. Individuals and isolated groups are no longer effective to solve increasingly complex problems. Collaborative organizations work together to be more efficient and effective and are characterized by new forms of structures and operations. Organizational structures should be more flexible to cope with problems more creatively. Rigid and simple bureaucratic structures cannot adapt quickly to changing environmental conditions. They are also operated to motivate workers to work together to accomplish demanding tasks. Knowledge management is one of the essential elements in collaborative organizations since collaboration requires effective ways to share information and knowledge from different sources. In this regard, the use of information and communication technologies is particularly important because it provides capabilities to integrate information across organizational boundaries. Further, the role of public managers should be changed from command and control to facilitation and coordination. In this regard, the use of information and communication technologies is particularly important because it provides capabilities to integrate information across organizational boundaries.

In the backdrop of above theoretical framework when tested, Pakistan Customs stands at top among all other government departments as well as many top level private organizations. As a member of Customs fraternity at national level one feels proud to be part of such an organization which not only has embraced and understood benefits of knowledge sharing but has taken it to the highest level of mutual co-operation and co-ordination with other governmental and non-governmental organizations. Pakistan Customs is the organization which embraced the change whole heartedly and brought in reforms and modernization since last four decades. From manual to fully digital platform, Pakistan Customs led all other departments while becoming itself  agent of change and not the victim of change. We are living in an age of information power. Customs believes sharing of information and knowledge with  all relevant  stake holders. From semi-automated system of working under PRAL(Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited) to initially PaCCS (Pakistan Customs Computerized System) to its indigenously developed WeBOC (Web Based One Customs) it has passed through great transition and transformation. In past people dreaded to import or export of their merchandise and produce due to complexity of laws and procedures which only worsened due to non-availability of reliable knowledge of Customs as well as other relevant rules and regulations. It was Pakistan Customs which while believing in sharing of knowledge with other stakeholders first simplified the laws and procedures then made it easily accessible through its fully automated interface WeBOC, which is homegrown end to end solution for both import as well as exports and Transit trade .

The Article 10.4 of WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) provides Member states for adopting a system that allows traders to submit documentation and data requirements at a single-entry point – either physical or electronic – to fulfil all import or export related regulatory requirements is a fundamental trade facilitation reform. A single window (SW) facility will expedite and simplify procedures to submit documents and data requirements to government agencies. The SW concept is a practical application of trade facilitation principles to reduce procedural obstacles. It can deliver immediate benefits to the business community by easing the burden of compliance, as well as reducing the time and cost of clearance and release processes. Pakistan Customs fulfilled its international commitment by establishing  Pakistan Single Window (PSW), under  Pakistan Single Window Act 2021 dated 14-04-2021. This  is one of the most important cross-border trade facilitation initiatives to have been taken up by the Government of Pakistan. The PSWC, a public sector company incorporated under Section 42 of the companies Act, 2017 by Pakistan Customs has been notified as the ‘Operating Entity’ of the PSW system by the Federal Government under the provisions of the PSW Act, 2021. In order to ensure optimal benefits of the PSW system to the traders as well as public sector regulators, Section 3(3) of the PSW Act 2021 makes it mandatory upon Customs and Other Government Agencies (OGAs), as listed in the schedule to the Act, to align their respective laws, regulations, procedures, processes, and other information requirements related to regulation of imports, exports, transit trade and associated transport with Pakistan Single Window. There are Seventy Four(74) OGAs which share their information and provide electronic working mechanism to the stakeholders through this integrated digital knowledge sharing platform provided by Pakistan Customs.

PSW accessible at www.psw.gov.pk aims to provide an integrated electronic platform that allows parties involved in international trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single-entry point to fulfill all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements. The PSW system will link various stakeholders like Customs and Other Government Agencies (OGAs) involved in the regulation of cross border trade as well as transportation besides connecting port authorities, commercial banks, traders, freight forwarders, and transporters, etc. on a digital portal that relies on an integrated risk management system, electronic payment systems and a seamless flow of information. The PSW will lead to improved regulatory controls for all the concerned government authorities while at the same time will reduce the time, cost, and complication of doing business in imports, exports, and transit trade for economic operators. The improved competitiveness and transparency through PSW implementation will help Pakistan to realize its ambition of becoming a regional hub for trade and transit.

Continuing the high traditions, the PSW in order to fulfill country’s obligation under article 10 of TFA recently launched its flagship project the Trade Information Portal of Pakistan (TIPP), a website (www.tipp.gov.pk)  that displays the latest and complete regulatory information related to imports, exports, and transit trade for any item/HS code as well as useful statistical data for international trade. Trade Information Portals deliver a range of benefits. It enhances transparency and access to a wide array of information which can be pivotal in making decisions related to trade and investments. Each piece of information made available in TIPP has been collected and validated from the 77 Other Government Agencies (OGAs) as listed in Schedule-I of PSW Act 2021. The regulatory content has been digitized based on Pakistan Customs Tariff (HS Codes) creating thousands of linkages to Legal Documents (all relevant laws, rules, regulations, and orders etc), Procedures, Measures, Commodities, Forms, Fee Schedules, etc. TIPP has been designed from the perspective of traders, Overseas Pakistanis, and potential investors who will get the latest and authentic information regarding cross-border trade regulations and other requirements. TIPP will also provide the latest trade statistics, trade agreements, and offer information to Pakistani exporters in international markets for preferential market access. TIPP will enable them to make informed decisions while undertaking cross-border trade transactions. Furthermore, TIPP offers guided journeys for visitors through its user-friendly interface available both in English and Urdu in order to attract maximum number of visitors and investors.

This is however just the beginning of a new era in digitalization and leading from the front by Pakistan Customs among comity of national and international organizations thus moving with pride to new digital and paperless work environment in the country. There is no time for complacency with these achievements as a lot more is required to make country’s trading systems transparent, fully digital, automated and facilitation driven enabling the country to face the competitive world with commitment, dedication, and pride in coming times.