Special Messages On 26-January-2017 International Customs Day

Message from Customnews.pk

World Customs Organization (WCO) is observing World Customs Day on January 26th under the theme ‘Data Analysis for Effective Border Management’ with a view to promote importance of recording patterns of trade, passenger movement to preempt violation of border sanctity.

Recent developments involving transit and economic corridors in the region have opened up opportunities and even greater challenges for Pakistan.

Pakistan’s land border stations and sea ports have strategic importance thus immense potential as transit corridor and as regional transit hub.

However, there are several shortcomings on the part of authorities, which leaves Pakistan far behind in the line of technologically updated border management service.

Data recording and subsequent analysis can be the most efficient tool in trade facilitation, enforcement of border/customs laws as well as revenue collection. Unfortunately, the sources of data available to authorities are not completely reliable, the efficient analysis capability is also questionable.

Data is collected on the basis of Goods Declarations (GDs) filed by the importers or their agents, which is then analyzed. The random examination of the consignments often leads to detection of different violations such as misdeclaration pollutes the collected database making the analysis difficult.

On the other hand there is a tendency on the part of examining authorities who abuse the process of data collection again jeopardizing the accuracy of the data.

Shortage of trained staff and equipment is another issue which hinders efficient data collection. The Directorate of Reforms and Automation is short of skilled personnel and regular Customs staff is running this high-tech department.

There have been cases where shipper, shipping agent and importer formed a nexus to defraud the system and over-ride the data to their common advantage. The inefficient risk management system has enabled inaccurate and engineered profiling of importers. Due to this flaw, the profile of importers committing violations of law through mis-declaration or under-invoicing and evasion through misuse of concessionary SROs remains intact and they keep abusing the green channel facility.

Pakistan share long and porous borders with Iran and Afghanistan, which are the source of smuggling and duty evasion. Because of large influx of smuggled goods, the data can not be accurate.

However, there are certain potential impediments to an optimal use of data such as the lack of qualitative data, data that has been integrated or merged, lack of harmonization of data across border agencies lack of skilled resources, IT challenges and cultural challenges. In addition it is vital that appropriate privacy and confidentially law be respected.

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