Karachi: Mr. Atif Ikram Sheikh, President FPCCI, has apprised that during the visit of Director General of Custom Valuation to FPCCI Head Office in Karachi, it has been agreed, in principle, to work together to reduce review time from 30 days to as low as possible to facilitate country’s trade and industrial production – which is the cornerstone of any economy to create jobs, generate revenues and achieve economic growth. The business community would like to see review time vis-à-vis custom valuation come down to 7 days and we will make it part of FPCCI’s proposals for the federal budget 2024 – 25 as well, he added.

Mr. Atif Ikram Sheikh explained that fluctuations in custom valuation results in volatility and uncertainty in the industrial planning, production and exports; whereas, any delay in custom valuation results in unfair and undue demurrages and detention charges to the importers. These are financial costs and losses which can be avoided through better liaison between customs department and the business community, he added.

FPCCI Chief noted that technological advancements have changed the landscape of shipping and customs through digitalization; therefore, the need for upfront payments have also subsided globally. We demand customs department to look into the matter and provide relief to the business community of the liquidity blockages in these times where access to finance is severely restricted in Pakistan due to 22 percent key policy rate, he added.

Mr. Saquib Fayyaz Magoon, SVP FPCCI, maintained that in case of incorrect or obsolete custom valuation, businesses suffer unnecessarily – and, FPCCI proposes the process to determine updated, realistic and fair custom valuations be expedited in consultation with stakeholders from the platform of the apex body.

Mr. Saquib Fayyaz Magoon highlighted the issue of smuggling as one of the most fundamental issues; and, demanded that smuggling should be controlled and eliminated at the borders. There should be no harassment or inspections at the storages, warehouses, factories, markets, stores and shops – as these result in trauma and reputational damage to the business community, he added.

Mr. Muhammad Aamir, Convener of FPCCI’s Central Standing Committee on Custom Valuation, requested the DG to take up the issue of required revisions in Section 25 – D of the Customs Act 1969 – in light of the valuation rulings given over the years and also incorporating the changing ground realities.

Mirza Mubashir Baig, DG Custom Valuation, informed the session that customs department is looking at the issues holistically and technology adoption is the principle tool which is being applied to resolve grievances and complaints of the business community in a fair and transparent manner. He added that customs department will endeavor to bring down the review time from 30 days gradually; and, sought the cooperation of traders in achieving the same.

Mirza Mubashir Baig said that letters from federal tax ombudsman (FTO) require comments in 1 – 2 weeks of time; but, 45 days are given for resolution and they try their best to resolve the issues at the earliest. He assured that all letters from the esteemed office of FTO are given due and swift consideration.

Mr. Fayyaz Rasool Maken, Director of Custom Valuation, stressed that customs department is ready and willing for alternative dispute resolution mechanism – and, considers FPCCI the right forum to help customs formulate ADRCs.

Brig Iftikhar Opel, SI (M), Retd.

Secretary General