World Custom Day Highlights Message, Articles & Pictures


Messages


IMRAN KHAN, PRIME MINISTER OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF PAKISTAN

PRIME MINISTER OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF PAKISTAN

Pakistan Customs is celebrating the International Customs Day on 26th January, 2020 to acknowledge its valuable contributions for fostering sustainability for people, prosperity and planet.

It is indeed an opportunity for Pakistan Customs to reiterate its resolve to be a modern organization and play its due role in making Pakistan safe and grow economically. This day reminds us to integrate with other countries for introducing the best international customs practices. Pakistan Customs would be helpful in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by creating an environment where trade flourish and people become prosperous.

This year’s theme makes us ponder over the responsibilities placed on us and impel Pakistan Customs to re-engineer the Customs processes and procedures which duly cater to the trade needs in the modern world.

This day also reminds us of the vast and changing role of Customs service for the betterment of people, society and the world. Modernization and rationalization of the Customs regulatory regime in Pakistan, with the aim of facilitating/securing the trade and aligning the governing procedures with the best international practices, will help Pakistan improve its ranking in Ease of Doing Business Index.

In this context, I am pleased to share that the reform process for Pakistan Customs has been initiated and I hope that in the next few years there would be seamless and fully automated systems in place to cater the future/economic needs of the country.

In addition to revenue generation, the important task of Customs is security of trade for greater and predictable economic activities. Therefore, laws should be implemented in such a way that the society remains safe from the perils of money laundering, drugs and tax fraud. Here, I do emphasize upon the use of modern technology, techniques, and a solid IT infrastructure for achievement of the afore-stated objectives.

Finally, I felicitate Pakistan Customs and the Federal Board of Revenue on the efforts made for facilitating and securing trade with the world and feel confident that Pakistan Customs would play its role in fostering sustainability for brighter future for generations to come.


ABDUL HAFEEZ SHEIKH, THE ADVISER TO THE PRIME MINISTER ON FINANCE AND REVENUE

THE ADVISER TO THE PRIME MINISTER ON FINANCE AND REVENUE

I convey my good wishes to Pakistan Customs on celebrating International Customs Day on 26th January 2020. This year’s theme of “Customs’ fostering sustainability for people, prosperity and planet” highlights the ever expanding and important role of Customs for not only helping in economic growth but also protecting the society and the climate of the world.

It is heartening that Pakistan Customs is fully cognizant of its varied responsibilities and efforts are being made to discharge its responsibilities in an efficient and effective manner. In this modern world, revenue collection is only one function of the Customs whereas other important functions are: securing the economic borders, implementing various Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) such as Basel Convention, the Montreal Protocol, the Cartagena Protocol, the Rotterdam Convention, the Stockholm Convention, the World Heritage Convention, and the CITES Convention; and preventing financial frauds. In today’s interconnected and interdependent world, the economic activity and development hinge upon smooth, fast and hassle free trade flows across the borders. Therefore, Customs has to create a balance in facilitating trade and enforcing laws/rules in such a way that it gets transformed into a highly proactive/vibrant organization.

Pakistan Customs has introduced many reforms and its automated clearance system, namely WeBOC, may be updated and modernized to cope with the ever growing challenges to smooth trade flows. The threats like money laundering, smuggling of narcotics and other issues can be tackled systematically by resorting to innovative technologies. I hope that Pakistan Single Window would be a giant leap in the direction of modernization of Customs and other allied agencies for making trade smooth, predictable, and transparent. The need of the hour is that Customs should convert all emerging threats and challenges into opportunities.

I do stress upon the fact that Pakistan Customs should work more closely with World Customs Organization so that the Customs procedures/operations get updated in light of the WCO’s tools and instruments. It is my strong conviction that Pakistan Customs would prove to be a trailblazer in introducing modern technology and would set an example for other organizations to emulate.

At the end, I congratulate Federal Board of Revenue and Pakistan Customs on the progress made so far. I feel confident that the organization would keep making all out efforts for   reforming its business processes by aligning them with international best practices. It is our shared responsibility toward society and the world to work for fostering sustainability for our future.


SYED SHABBAR ZAIDI, CHAIRMAN FEDERAL BOARD OF REVENUE

CHAIRMAN FEDERAL BOARD OF REVENUE

Pakistan Customs, like all other Customs Administrations around the world, is celebrating International Customs Day on 26th January, 2020. I extend my felicitation to all officers and officials of Pakistan Customs on this special day. The role of Customs has, over the years, transcended traditional functions and now it is viewed as a partner for fostering sustainability in the economic, social and environmental life of society.

This year’s theme focuses on Customs’ fostering sustainability for people, prosperity and planet which aims at sustainable economic development and long lasting well being of the society. In the modern world, Customs has to play a proactive role in not only facilitating trade, implementing various laws but also protecting the society from emerging threats in the areas of terrorism and climate.

Pakistan Customs plays a prominent role across the international supply chain, ensuring a sustainable, secure, and inclusive future for all. Customs is tasked with meeting all the environmental, economic, and social challenges while scaling up its ongoing efforts to respond effectively in a proactive manner.

In addition to existing automated (WeBOC) system, Pakistan Customs has initiated a project namely WeBOC-GLO for updating and modernizing the system keeping in lines with best international practices prevalent around the world for facilitating trade.

FBR has recently established Directorate of Cross Border Currency Movement, and National Targeting Centre to counter the menace of money laundering and trade based frauds. It is worth mentioning that Pakistan Customs is the lead agency in rolling out Pakistan Single Window which will bring a paradigm shift in Doing Business and will boost coordination and cooperation among all the agencies which are involved in trading across borders.

While felicitating the officers and officials of Pakistan Customs on this auspicious occasion, I expect them to continue to strive for greater professionalism in line with international best practices and transform the organization as business friendly, forward looking and a partner in the economic development of the country.


MR. KUNIO MIKURIYA SECRETARY GENERAL WCO

WCO SECRETARY GENERAL

International Customs community comes together united in celebrating International Customs Day, which officially falls on 26th January of each year. This special day enables WCO Members, the WCO Secretariat and Customs’ worldwide partners to dedicate themselves to taking forward a particular theme. Thus, throughout 2020, under the slogan “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet,” the Customs community will be focusing on the contribution of Customs toward a sustainable future where social, economic, health and environmental needs would be given top priority. Against this background, Customs’ contribution to sustainability can be illustrated such as serving the people by building safe and secure societies. ensuring prosperity by reducing trade barriers for just and inclusive societies, and protecting the planet and ensuring its sustainability for future generations.

The 2019 WCO Environmental Scan highlights the fact that, in order to move towards a sustainable society, whose development promotes a deep respect for the environment, Customs, in partnership with relevant stakeholders, must (wherever possible) perform its activities with a strong and sustainable mindset. Thus, by means of various tools and specific programs, the WCO is calling for various actions to be taken which are the consistent and transparent application of Customs procedures and a proactive approach by Customs to promote and facilitate simplification and harmonization of these procedures, while strengthening inter-agency cooperation.

It is therefore recommended that Customs’ practices and methods should be aligned with the WCO’s tools and instruments, which have been incorporated into several packages: the Revenue Package, the Economic Competitiveness Package, the Compliance and Enforcement package, and the Organizational Development Package.

Finally, I am fully convinced that Customs administrations and the wider Customs community will rise to the occasion, fully committed to actively promoting their efforts and activities aimed at fostering “Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet” that includes sharing relevant practices and activities with others at WCO meetings and in key WCO publications.

Wishing you all happy International Customs Day.


MR. NAVEED KAMRAN BALOCH, THE SECRETARY (FINANCE), FBR

SECRETARY, REVENUE DIVISION/FINANCE, FEDERAL BOARD OF REVENUE

International Customs Day across the globe is being celebrated on 26th January, 2020, under the theme, “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”.

The theme of this year depicts the vital / significant role and contribution of Customs towards a sustainable and secure future of people while encompassing economic and social development.

Pakistan Customs is also celebrating the International Customs Day not only in view of its tangible achievements in the said areas but also reinforcing its commitment to make Pakistan safe, economically prosperous, and environmentally protected.

In this modern and fast changing world, role of Customs is not just restricted to collection of duties and taxes on imported goods but also includes trade facilitation, implementation of various Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), control over money laundering, and detection and prevention of fiscal frauds. There is no denying the fact that Customs services are uniquely placed to play a prominent role across the international supply chains.

Moreover, importance / relevance of customs operations in context of promotion of international trade and economic development of the countries can be gauged from the fact there is a direct link between the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Customs’ strategic objectives.

It is heartening that Pakistan Customs, through the introduction of various reforms and automation of customs business processes, is fully equipped and capable to discharge its duties and responsibilities in an efficient and effective manner. I hope that customs modernization initiative like WeBOC-GLO, establishment of Directorate of Cross Border Currency Movement and development of Pakistan Single Window will substantially enhance and improve the performance of Pakistan Customs by making its operations more trade friendly, impregnable and transparent.

In addition to these initiatives, Pakistan Customs has conducted effective action against violations of Intellectual Property Rights in case of goods imported into Pakistan. This has gone a long way in preventing sub-standard / counterfeit goods and products from entering into Pakistan’s domestic markets, leading to greater foreign direct investment and promotion of innovation.

This goes without saying that prosperity depends upon economic development which can, inter alia, predominantly be achieved through reduction of trade barriers and (consequently) enhanced trade. By streamlining its operations, Pakistan Customs has achieved a milestone in increasing its ranking by thirty two (32) positions in the Trading Across Border Index.

This has also significantly contributed to Pakistan’s improvement in East of Doing Business Index by twenty eight (28) positions.

At the end, I felicitate Federal Board of Revenue and Pakistan Customs on this special day and expect that further efforts will be made in facilitation of trade by following the international best practices and use of modern technology. Moreover, I feel confident that Pakistan Customs would play an active role in fostering sustainability for the future generations and keeps on playing its role in the progress of the country.


MR. MUHAMMAD JAVED GHANI, MEMBER (CUSTOMS-POLICY), FBR

MEMBER (CUSTOMS POLICY), FEDERAL BOARD OF REVENUE

WCO is the premier body of 183 member countries providing leadership, support and guidance to Customs administrations in order to have a secure, prosperous and livable world. The WCO has dedicated 2020 to promote sustainability under the slogan “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”.

It is an acknowledged fact that borders divide and Customs connects. However, to cope effectively with multi-faceted and complex challenges at regional and international level, it is imperative that simultaneous efforts are made for ensuring a sustainable society from the perspectives of social development, economic prosperity, and environmental protection. Importance/significance of the said theme can be gauged from the fact that the Customs’ pursuit for fostering social/economic/environmental sustainability is a milestone towards achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goods (SDG) outlined in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Even before enunciation of SGDs, United Nations’ World Commission on Environment and Development has emphasized upon achievement in these spheres which – in contemporary literature – are identified as the Triple-Bottom-Line (3BL).

Needless to say that international trade has brought economic prosperity and opened many new vistas but this necessitates that trade flows must be kept afloat with the help of modern technology and innovative ideas. Customs is in fact the first line of defense against illicit movement of cargo across borders, putting on its shoulder the responsibility of keeping global supply chain intact and safe. However, highly globalized trade has posed serious challenges to the customs administrations in the world. From the social perspective, the challenges, inter alia, are; prevention of substandard/counterfeit goods; fighting against transnational organized crime and terrorism; taking action against the trafficking of people/drugs/weapon; effectively controlling money laundering. From the economic dimension, the challenges are; ensuring resilient/prosperous economy; reduction of time and cost of moving goods across borders; stimulate trade activities; taking strong action against commercial fraud and tax evasion; strengthening governance. Environmental sustainability involve challenges like: fight against climate change; effective implementation of various Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs); curb illicit trade in hazardous waste; control over ozone-depleting substances; combating illicit trade in endangered species; preventing the spread of plant and animal diseases.

As an active member of international customs community, Pakistan too is celebrating International Customs day on 26th January, 2020. It is an occasion to highlight efforts of Pakistan Customs in promotion of international trade and enforcement of border controls to ensure: security and development of society (as a whole); economic prosperity; environmental protection. To this end, Pakistan Customs is ensuring availability of detailed and quality data on goods that are traded in the international market. Secondly, implementation is being done of the provisions of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) such as Basel Convention, the Montreal Protocol, the Cartagena Protocol, the Rotterdam Convention, the Stockholm Convention, the World Heritage Convention, and the CITES Convention for fight against climate change and provide environmental sustainability. Pakistan Customs has also embarked upon enlargement of the “Digital Customs” agenda with greater emphasis on the use of modern technologies, including a high-performance paperless Single Window environment and a solid IT infrastructure facilitating enhanced data exchanges and the adoption of sophisticated tools and standards. Pakistan Customs has made tangible achievements in curbing counterfeiting and piracy which has gone a long way in preventing unfair competition and creating an environment where innovation and creativity can thrive. In order to fully accomplish all the afore-stated objectives, Pakistan Customs has maintained/enhanced a robust and sustained engagement/partnership mechanism with the business community.

In the end, I sincerely felicitate Pakistan Customs and the international Customs community on the occasion of International Customs Day and look forward to work in close coordination with them to achieve the common objective of sustainable future where social, economic, and environmental needs are at the core of viable actions.


MR. JAWWAD UWAIS AGHA, MEMBER (CUSTOMS-OPERATIONS), FBR

MEMBER (CUSTOMS OPERATIONS), FEDERAL BOARD OF REVENUE

Today our Customs fraternity across the globe celebrates the International Customs day under the theme “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”. Embedded in this year’s theme is the recognition of Customs contribution while at the same time emphasizing the aspect of organizational responsibility towards fostering a sustainable future.

Over the years, there has been a shift from revenue collection towards enforcement through, protection of society & promotion of trade leading to a diverse set of activities and which Pakistan Customs performs today. Being at the forefront in implementing regulations addressing major social and economic challenges related to narcotics, weapons, money laundering, intellectually property rights and substandard products, calls for us to strive harder to enforce laws promoting a secure and livable society.

Automation and paperless clearances on Risk Based criteria are the hallmark of our indigenously developed WeBOC (Web Based One Customs), which has today graduated into its next version as a dynamic environment and stakeholder friendly WeBOC GLO system fully garnering innovative and modern technology for seamless and smooth trade flows.

The Customs led cloud based Pakistan Single Window, to be operationalized by end 2021 with all Governmental & Non-Governmental stakeholders on a single platform, is Pakistan Customs’ flagship program which shall not only be a game changer in the field of trading across borders but would reshape the trade paradigm in the region towards a digital signature based connectivity.

Remaining mindful of its duties towards society while striving towards continued contributions for a sustainable, economically prosperous, secure and environmentally friendly society, this year’s theme poses Customs with added responsibilities which cannot be addressed without attaining the necessary skill sets and requisite knowledge.

Thus, this cause is certainly not just for one year but requires to be taken on as a lifetime mission to render services for sustainability of trade & environment for generations to come.

Today is also an occasion to congratulate our Pakistan Customs fraternity across the lines in joining the international customs family in its commitment towards fostering a sustainable future by discharging social, economic and environmental responsibilities.

Let’s resolve to gear up all our efforts and energy to contribute positively for the planet in general and society in particular in consonance with the WCO’s slogan of ‘Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet’.


DR. WASIF ALI MEMON, CHIEF COLLECTOR, ENFORCEMENT (SOUTH)

CHIEF COLLECTOR ENFORCEMENT (SOUTH), FEDERAL BOARD OF REVENUE

Pakistan observes International Customs Day on Jan 26, 2020 together with the global community to mark participation of customs administration towards a sustainable future by building safe and secure societies, reducing trade barriers and contributing to the fight against climate change, with the slogan “Customs fostering sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet.”

This year’s key note is dedicated to Customs’ strategic mission of achieving sustainability needed for smooth flow of trade and goods aiming to create healthy and prosperous environment by unifying all actors along the entire supply chain. The presence of customs at the borders and its mandate to supervise entry and exist of goods in an economy gives strategic role to it that in turn significantly contributes towards building prosperous societies across the globe.

Customs world over deliver an effective border-related enforcement strategy, intercepts illegal cross-border movements of hazardous waste and Ozone Depleting Substances to fight against climate change which stimulate trade in substantial amount. These roles truly justify customs’ contribution in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals outlined in the UN Agenda 2030 for sustainable development.

The priority with the Federal Government is to make Pakistan prosperous by unifying with the United Nation to achieve the goals and objectives earmarked by the world community under its banner. At the policy making levels, there is complete unanimity that by protecting the supply chains the society prospers as it promotes industry, encourage trade and enhance revenue.

It is evident from endorsement of World Customs Organization’s new three year’s vision of “Bringing Customs together for a safer and more prosperous world” thereby contributing to global   of meeting environmental, social, economic and health challenges.

The credentials of Pakistan as a responsible member of the world community are testified by the facts that it is signatory to all important international agreements which signify sustainability for people, prosperity and the planet. It has always strived to contribute towards implementation of Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) like Montreal Protocol and Stockholm Convention.

The unwavering commitment of the government to protect legal trade and ensure smooth flow of trade without hindrance may be gauged from the fact that it is keen to employ non-intrusive inspection technology; launch of the Customs National Targeting Centre (NTC), and installation of the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) which will enable better decisions based on advance information.

All these measures are intended to enhance enforcement while at the same time expediting clearances and thwarting threats posed to the prosperity of the country.

I, therefore, applaud Pakistan Customs for its exalted role and strong commitment with the international charter and community of the world to ensure the prosperity by reducing trade barriers required for building safe society and guaranteeing its sustainability for future generations. I firmly believe that these steps shall positively contribute to our vision of making Pakistan a prosperous, green and trade friendly nation.


ARSLAN SUBUCTAGEEN, DIRECTOR GENERAL, DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF IPR ENFORCEMENT ISLAMABAD

DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF IPR ENFORCEMENT, ISLAMABAD

The International Customs Day  on 26th January 2020 is dedicated to the contribution of Customs towards a sustainable future where social, economic, health and environmental needs are focused upon with the slogan: “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”.

The Directorate General of IPR Enforcement since its operationalization in 2017 is progressively contributing towards promoting legitimate trade and safeguarding health and security of consumers. It is one of the recently established specialized departments within Pakistan Customs.

The rationale behind the creation of this specialized department was to provide a single-stop for international and national right-holders to seek remedies against the infringement of their intellectual property rights in imports and exports, safeguarding the legitimate revenue for the state and the safety, security and health of the consumers.

So far till December 2019 a total of 164 cases worth a market value of more than Rs. 200 million, of counterfeit goods have been detected nationwide since the operationalization of Directorate General of IPR Enforcement in 2017. Huge quantities of these counterfeit goods were destroyed in three ceremonies held at Karachi in January 2019, April 2019 and November 2019. Most of the counterfeit items destroyed included empty shampoo bottles, medicines, tooth-pastes, toiletries, perfumes, watches, contraceptives and makeup products.

Some of these fast moving consumer goods pose a serious threat to health and safety of consumers.

Launching a crack down against counterfeit cosmetics, the Directorates of IPR, Enforcement at Karachi and Islamabad seized huge quantities of “Fair & Lovely”, “Ponds”, “Loreal”, “Tresemme” and other famous brands. Similarly another consignment carrying counterfeit “Lakme” and “Loreal” brands makeup was also seized at the Islamabad Dry port with an approximate market value of Rs. 3.7 million.

These fake make up products contain dangerous mixtures that can damage the skin.

Customs IPR in Pakistan is also taking steps to improve the country’s IPR global ranking, through its efforts to get Pakistan’s name removed from the watch list of the office of US Trade Representative. Earlier in 2015 Pakistan was in the list of countries on Priority Watch list.

Due to improvement in our IPR enforcement mechanism, the country was listed in the Watch list in 2017 and continues to be so in 2019. India still happens to be in the Priority Watch list.

In 2019 a Joint Customs Operation (JCO) “HYGIEA” was organized by the European Anti Fraud Office (OLAF) in association with the administration of Asia Europe meeting (ASEM). ASEM is an inter-governmental platform of 51 member states of Europe & Asia, created for the purpose of cooperation on areas of mutual interest including Customs with the objective of strengthening relationship between Asian and European countries. In addition to the member countries, two observer organizations viz OLAF and EUROPOL were also participating.

The JCO focused on interdiction of counterfeit Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs). Pakistan joined the JCO HYGIEA in March-2019 and FBR nominated the Directorate General of IPR (Enforcement), Islamabad to serve as national contact point for this operation.

A debriefing meeting of the operation was scheduled by European Anti Fraud Office on 26 th and 27 th September 2019 at Rome, Italy with a view to evaluate the performance of 38 participating countries out of 51 members of ASEM during the specified period of five months.

A final report on JCO HYGIEA formulated by OLAF reveals that performance of Pakistan was at the TOP with 12 seizures/forfeitures followed by Malta with 6 while Italy, France and Bangladesh were at the 3 rd position with 2 seizures each. This outstanding performance of Pakistan Customs IPR (Enforcement) was acknowledged and highly appreciated by the OLAF, EUROPOL, ASEM and all participating member states of the JCO HYGIEA bringing a good name for the Country, FBR and Pakistan Customs.

The Directorate General of IPR Enforcement has also accelerated its training and awareness activities all over Pakistan. A total of 40 trainings, seminars and interactive sessions have been carried out, which were attended by more than a thousand participants.

An external outreach training program was also rolled out in May 2019 under which approximately 80 officers and officials of Pakistan Customs posted at MCC, Islamabad, MCC Peshawar and Directorate of IPR Central Lahore were trained on interdiction of counterfeit goods.

Moreover, a seminar focusing on Safeguarding Consumer Rights was also arranged at Islamabad in August 2019 and was chaired by Mr. Jawwad Owais Agha, Member Customs, FBR. An exclusive workshop on Copyrights Enforcement was also carried out at Karachi on 28th November 2019 in cooperation with Oxford University Press.

Directorate General of IPR, Enforcement seeks to promote genuine trade itself, whether national or international. A comprehensive policy and strategy paper focusing on IPR Border Enforcement has been prepared and published by Directorate General of IPR Enforcement that outlines specific enforcement strategy and deliverables.

The paper has been prepared keeping in view the spirit of the TRIPS and WTO’s Agreement on Trade Facilitation, to which Pakistan is a signatory.

Since the establishment of Directorate General of IPR Enforcement, a significant number of right-holders from US, Europe, Far East and Asia are working directly with Pakistan Customs on their trade-mark related infringement issues on diverse items. In September, 2019 a sizeable quantity of fake copies of publication “From MTV to Mecca” was seized on the complaint filed by the author of the book Ms. Kristiane Backer.

The fake books were printed in UK and exported to Pakistan. These were seized from a local bookseller in Karachi. This case is first of a kind and has earned Pakistan Customs appreciation from the international author herself.

It is hoped that Pakistan Customs will stand out in IPR Enforcement at borders and continue to curb the import of counterfeit goods. The basis for this optimism is our performance, continuous engagement with national and foreign stakeholders, and dedication to the cause of ensuring health and safety for the consumers.


DR. ZULFIKAR ALI CHAUDHRY, CHIEF COLLECTOR (BALOCHISTAN), FBR

CHIEF COLLECTOR (BALOCHISTAN), FEDERAL BOARD OF REVENUE

International Customs Day is celebrated every year on 26th January by the global Customs fraternity to commemorate the inaugural session of Customs Cooperation Council (CCC) in 1953.

The CCC was re-named as World Customs Organization (WCO) in 1995. The day is celebrated to highlight and showcase Customs role in economic growth, trade facilitation, innovation, and protection of society from influx of illicit and dangerous goods.

The World Customs Organization has chosen “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet” as the slogan for this year’s International Customs Day.

Customs plays a pivotal role in the economic growth and prosperity of any nation. It is indeed the first line of defence against economic and security related threats. Customs mandate includes collection of legitimate government revenues on the import and export of goods, enforcement of multitudes of laws relating to environment, health, safety, security, anti-money laundering, endangered species, narcotics and psychotropic goods and food security to name only a few.

The theme selected by the World Customs Organization for this year’s International Customs Day amply describes the multifaceted and varied contribution of Customs in the society. It is indeed deeply intertwined with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals pertaining to environmental, economic, health and social challenges. Customs contribution is vital in enforcing laws and regulations pertaining to protection of intellectual property rights; transnational organized crime and terrorism; counter-narcotics; and health and safety standards.

Like any other modern Customs administration around the globe, Pakistan Customs has made huge strides in the recent years to achieve its strategic objectives of a safe, secure and hassle free trading regime. One of the important milestones achieved is the improvement in “Trading Across Border” indicator of the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index 2020.

Due to implementation of various trade facilitation measures and automation of cargo clearance procedures, Pakistan’s ranking has improved by 31 positions to 111 from 142 among 190 economies. In the field of enforcement, it gives me a lot a satisfaction that Pakistan Customs, specially Baluchistan Customs has made significant efforts to dismantle the smuggling networks.

Baluchistan Customs has been able to seize goods worth Rs. 2billion during the period from July, 2019 till December, 2019. However, this success has not been without cost and sacrifice in blood. In fact Balochistan Customs has lost one of its brilliant officers namely, Dr. Abdul Quddoos Sheikh, Deputy Collector in a cowardly attack by unscrupulous smuggler on 9th July, 2019.

The officer was attacked by a gang of smugglers while returning from a successful operation in the intervening night of 4th and 5th July, 2019. He remained in coma for five days and embraced “Shahadat” on 9th July, 2019.The supreme sacrifice of the officer has re-invigorated our resolve to eradicate the menace of smuggling which is damaging our society economically and socially.

It would not be out of place to highlight the exceptional support and assistance of other law enforcement agencies i.e. Frontier Corps, Baluchistan, Baluchistan Police, Levies and other law enforcement agencies in our fight against criminal elements. Specially, Frontier Corps Baluchistan has always been forthcoming when ever requested for assistance.

In fact, many a successful operations in the most volatile parts of Baluchistan were conducted with complete coordination and active on-ground support of FC Baluchistan. It would be unfair if I do not

mention the role Baluchistan Police in our enforcement efforts. Whenever and wherever, Pakistan Customs needed reinforcement, Baluchistan Police responded promptly even beyond their call of duty.

In the end, I would like to felicitate my fellow officers, officers from other law enforcement agencies and trade community on the auspicious occasion of International Customs Day. At the same time, I would urge my fellow officers to make all out efforts to make Pakistan a prosperous country and Pakistan Customs a forward looking and modern Customs administration ready to face the emerging challenges in the World.


DIRECTOR GENERAL, DIRECTORATE OF POST CLEARANCE AUDIT

ABDUL RASHEED SHEIKH, DIRECTOR GENEREAL,

DIRECTORATE OF POST CLEARANCE AUDIT

Together with Custom community of the World, Pakistan Customs is also celebrating International Customs Day on 26th January, 2020. I extend my warm felicitations to all officers and officials of Customs on this special day. The slogan of the day this year is “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”. The theme highlights the contribution and efforts of Customs organizations in bringing sustainability and prosperity to the lives of its people.

Border controls have always played a pivotal role in Pakistan customs. However, with changing times it has been realized that excessive and time-consuming checks at the point of clearance can be counterproductive. By application of a post-clearance, risk-based approach, Pakistan Customs would be able to target its resources more effectively and work in partnership with the business community to improve compliance levels and facilitate trade. However, launching a full-fledged audit system in a country with high volumes of informal trade is not an easy job. It requires high level of commitment and dedication at all levels besides adequate human, logistic, IT and financial resources. Nevertheless, in line with WCO guidelines and best international customs practices, Directorate General of Post Clearance Audit (PCA), Karachi is determined to align its practices along modern custom techniques. It is enhancing its professional and operational competencies through the provision of practical tools and techniques to effectively conduct system based audits and in this regard efforts are underway to develop an effective risk based management system for PCA.

Once PCA is fully operational, compliant trade will be facilitated at the point of Customs clearance whereas border controls will be considerably reduced. It would enable Customs to gain better information and understanding of traders’ business and risk levels, customs administrations’ resources will be more effectively deployed and the concept of voluntary compliance and self-assessment will translate into practice.

I am confident that our government and officers would continue to make all possible efforts to adopt the latest technology and best international custom’s practices within the shortest possible time. This in turn will enhance performance and provide an enabling institutional structure to promote and sustain rapid expansion in Pakistan’s international trade and commerce leading to sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet.


MUHAMMAD SAQIF SAEED, COLLECTOR MCC PREVENTIVE, KARACHI

COLLECTOR (MCC PREVENTIVE), KARACHI

International Customs Day is celebrated every year on 26 January to recognize the efforts of Customs community around the globe and to meet the new challenges faced by customs in terms of revenue generation and trade facilitation.

Pakistan Customs being part of the International Customs fraternity and also a member of World Customs Organization is observing this day with full zeal and zest adhering to this year’s theme “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet.”

Due to ever increasing population resulting in massive globalization trends multiplying International trade so far has brought new challenges to the existing societies. Tax collection, revenue generation and trade facilitation are some primary roles of Customs but increasing globalization demands multifaceted participation of customs to ensure existence of secure, prosperous and healthy societies.

Pakistan Customs, in this regard, is already implementing WCO Framework of Standards on Cross Border E-Commerce to leverage e-commerce opportunities in inclusive manner. In 2012, Pakistan Customs started Safe Transportation Environment (STE) project to manage risk of Afghan Transit (AT) cargo and to reconcile cargo data at the entry and exit points.

It is taking place on real-time basis by tacking and monitoring of vehicles carrying AT cargo. Another development project namely Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) jointly funded by FBR and Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been launched for development of trade related infrastructure at border crossing stations of Torkham (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Chaman (Balochistan), Wahga (Punjab) and Ports of Karachi and Bin Qasim (Sindh).

The afore-referred programs and activities clearly reflect that Pakistan has made a considerable progress regarding WCO's SAFE Framework of Standards, Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) and WTO & #39’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

Major development in this direction is five years project (Sept; 2015 to Aug; 2020) namely the Pakistan Regional Economic Integration Activity (PREIA) Project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). PREIA & #39s focus area is trade promotion and facilitation in collaboration with public and private sector to improve competitiveness resulting into increased volumes of trade and transit.

Pakistan is also signatory to the Stockholm Convention, Rotterdam Convention, Basel Convention and the Montreal Protocol. All these prohibit trans-boundary movements of persistent organic pollutants, certain industrial chemicals and ozone depleting substances.

Government of Pakistan is fully committed to make Pakistan Customs fully resourceful in term of technology and skillful manpower to foster sustainability for a prosperous economy and green environment.

In the end, I would like to highly appreciate the officers and officials of Pakistan Customs for their untiring efforts in fostering sustainable economy and also their role for ensuring healthy and green environment is equally laudable among all major stakeholders. Pakistan Customs is truly playing their part as the guardians of economic fronts of the motherland and I am very much hopeful for their more effective role in fostering sustainable development so that our future generations can witness a more stable Pakistan (In sha ALLAH).


WAJID ALI, COLLECTOR (APPRAISEMENT WEST), KARACHI

COLLECTOR (APPRAISEMENT, WEST), KARACHI

The International Customs Day is a promising occasion for World Customs Community as it provides an opportunity to customs to exhibit its accomplishments in the field of trade facilitation, revenue generation, enforcement and compliance.

To commemorate International Customs Day, every year WCO Secretariat dedicates a theme that is apropos to the challenges faced by global Customs community. The motto chosen for the year 2020 is “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet.”

With the passage of time, the role of Customs has been largely diversified due to increasing globalization trends and exponential growth in international trade. Customs, now, has not been limited to revenue collection but is playing its part with other stakeholders to foster sustainability for secure societies, public health and green environment.

Moreover, Pakistan has ratified the WTO’s Agreement on Trade Facilitation in 2015, and has committed to the establishment of a trade related National Single Window (NSW) as a ‘Category C’ commitment, with an implementation timeline of five years, with effect from 22nd February, 2017.

The Prime Minister’s Office designated Pakistan Customs in FBR as the Lead Agency in October, 2017, for implementation of an ICT based trade related NSW. Currently, Customs Wing in the FBR, through a dedicated Program Management Office (PMO), is working to establish Pakistan Single Window (PSW).

In order to establish a separate autonomous body to simplify cross border trade processes, reduced cost of doing business and trade facilitation on national and international level; Pakistan Customs has prepared the draft Pakistan Single Window Act, 2019.

National Single Window (NSW) is a platform that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents using a single-entry point to fulfill all import, export and transit related regulatory requirements.

In order to improve the governance of their cross-border trade regimes, other economies are increasingly relying on trade related single window systems. Due to changed international practices related to import and export of goods with added emphasis on facilitation of legitimate trade, and protection of government revenue, environment and security concerns, the use of ICT (International and Communication Technology) is the only way forward for Pakistan Customs.

In the context of growing cross-border e-commerce, the WCO Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce and related tools, Pakistan Customs is also exploring opportunities for implementing a Single Window environment and electronic-services, as well as making it interoperable with Single Windows of partner countries for the exchange of information including e-country of origin (COO) and e-phytosanitary certificates.

Pakistan Customs’ active participation in international collaborative initiatives, particularly in serving the people by building safe and secure societies, ensuring prosperity by reducing trade barriers and ensuring the sustainability of planet Earth for future generations, has also contributed towards the accomplishment of Sustainable Development Goals.

Furthermore, it gives me an immense pleasure that due to a concerted improvement in business regulation, Pakistan climbed 28 places and rose to a rank of 108 in the global ease of Doing Business rankings this year, 2019 from 136 the previous year 2018. Finally on the occasion of International Customs Day, 2020, I wish Pakistan Customs the best for its present and future endeavors, to foster sustainability while enabling targeted interventions against illicit trade activities. I hope that all officers and officials of Pakistan Customs shall continue to work for sustainable future.


DR. MUHAMMAD NADEEM MEMON
COLLECTOR
MCC APPRAISEMENT AND FACILITATION (EAST),
KARACHI

MODEL CUSTOMS COLLECTORATE OF APPRAISEMENT AND FACILITATION (EAST), KARACHI

This year’s International Customs Day (ICD) on 26 January 2020 is dedicated to the contribution of Customs towards a sustainable future where social, economic, health and environmental needs are at the heart of our actions, with the slogan “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”.

This not being a mere slogan enhances the responsibilities of Customs as a global fraternity and gives a multi-dimensional approach to ever expanding job as well as a meaningful existence for customs cantons everywhere. It is also a welcome recognition of Customs contributions towards sustainable future where not only the economic, but the social, health and environmental needs of the people, the country and the planet at large are a priority and are focused upon during the day to day working of modern customs.

Sustainable development is one that meets the needs of the present day with simultaneous progress towards a secure future for our next generations. This demands that import/export, border controls, tariff rates, revenue collection as well as legitimate trade facilitation is carried out with a view on its impact on present day situation and its future implications in strengthening and sustaining our economy, the country and the international community.

Pakistan Customs, in line with this year’s slogan, has been performing the task of protecting the economic borders of the country in order to ensure a predictable market in the best interest of its industrialists, investors, common man and environment. What makes this task so critical is that no country can offer other countries their market access/share unless they have it properly under control. The market control being referred to here is not synonymous to or implies an inclination towards a closed market but a market that is off limits for un-accounted for and un-documented commodities. Only when we ensure that our gates are properly guarded can we guarantee that whatever comes in is not unfavorable to our people, prosperity or the environment.

One of the core functions of Pakistan Customs, like its counterparts all around the world, is to facilitate legitimate trade. In this era of globalization, we have to very wisely and efficiently open our market to the world so that we know and can thus control what is coming in or going out and what is its impact on our economy, people and environment. In order to carry out the aforementioned task, Pakistan Customs implements more than 26 allied laws of the country, a few of them being Anti-Narcotics Act, Animal and Plant Quarantine Act and Intellectual Property Laws.

If we look closely, this year’s slogan’s focus on the sustainability of the planet is not unfounded. Human beings have a tendency to address imminent problems first which is why we mostly tend to forget the long run impacts of our policies and practices on the environment, our eco system and the planet. Pakistan Customs has ratified to and puts maximum efforts to practically adhere to the conventions focused on securing our planet from all that is any way harmful for it and its residents. There is an overpowering need and thus an ever-critical commitment of Customs throughout the world and in Pakistan to do our part to effectively protect our planet and everything on it from all that is detrimental in any way.

Recently, Pakistan Customs has been entrusted with the responsibility of being the lead agency for Anti-Smuggling in the country. It resonates perfectly with this year’s slogan as it calls for us to develop our capabilities in a manner that we can live up to the international as well as the national mandate. It is an opportunity for us to restructure our service by building the capacity of the workforce and equip it with the resources, tools and expertise it requires to carry out the task. This is a step towards becoming lead Law Enforcement Agency to perform anti-smuggling functions in the country.

This planet is home to humans as we know it. In order for our future generations to be able to have a safe, prosperous, sustainable and healthy life on Earth, we, as the custodians of borders and markets of our country, have to be committed to put such controls in place that check the inflow and outflow of all that is in any way damaging for our people or the planet; by doing that we shall be automatically living by this year’s slogan of fostering sustainability for people, prosperity and the planet.

Long Live Pakistan Customs. Long Live Pakistan.


MR. IFTIKHAR AHMAD, COLLECTOR MCC ENFORCEMENT & COMPLIANCE, QUETTA

COLLECTOR MCC ENFORCEMENT & COMPLIANCE, QUETTA

International Customs Day is celebrated under the auspices of World Customs Organization on 26th of January every year.

It is an important occasion to express solidarity with the global Customs fraternity and at the same time a day to resolve for future cooperation and collaboration to make international trade safe, secure and beneficial for all actors and nations.

Every year, the World Customs Organization (WCO), keeping in view the emerging trends in international trade, chooses a relevant theme and events are organized around the globe to publicize Customs role and significance with respect to the chosen theme. The WCO has dedicated this year’s Customs Day to the slogan “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”.

Customs administrations around the world are entrusted with myriad of responsibilities including collection of duties and taxes on imports; cargo and passenger clearance; enforcement of multiple laws governing the cross border movement of goods such as health and safety, intellectual property laws, CITES, counter-narcotics regulations, etc.; interdiction of illicit and dangerous goods posing threat to the society apart from the safety and security of international cargo supply chain which is vital for the economic growth and prosperity of every nation.

The WCO cognizant of the role of Customs in nation building has linked this year’s theme to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the reason that Customs being the frontline agency at the international border plays a critical role in enforcing laws and regulations which address major social and economic challenges facing societies across the globe thus help promoting human well being and prosperity of the nations.

The vision for Customs outlined by WCO which is “Bringing Customs together for a safer and more prosperous world: Borders divide, Customs connects” has been enshrined in the Organization’s Strategic Plan 2019-2022. The plan in fact explains the role of Customs in securing borders, thereby contributing to economic prosperity and unifying all actors along the entire supply chain.

It is indeed a matter of great pride that Pakistan Customs has made great strides in the last few years to transform the organization into a modern, progressive and vibrant body.

The reforms introduced in the last few years specially in the field information technology and automation have greatly contributed towards reduction in dwell time, safety and security of cargo supply chain and integrating Customs and other government agencies’ systems for better coordination and trade facilitation. Not to mention, the enforcement efforts wherein officers of Pakistan Customs have made phenomenal impact.

In fact, on this year’s Customs Day, we also pay tribute to our fallen hero, Dr. Abdul Quddoos Sheikh who laid down his life in the line of duty on July 9, 2019 in a cowardly and dastardly attack by unscrupulous smugglers. Despite this huge loss, our spirits are not down and we are ever more re-invigorated to eliminate the menace of smuggling from the society. Dr. Abdul Quddoos is a beacon of light for the entire Customs fraternity and reflects the remarkable role Customs is playing for safety and security of our nations.

In the end, I would like to congratulate my fellow officers, officers from other law enforcement agencies and trade community on the auspicious occasion of International Customs Day. Simultaneously, I would also like my fellow officer to remember our fallen colleagues whose sacrifice has given a new lease of life to the organization.


IMTIAZ AHMED SHEIKH, COLLECTOR CUSTOMS (EXPORTS), KARACHI

COLLECTOR CUSTOMS (EXPORTS), KARACHI

In the acknowledgement of the contribution of Customs towards social, economic, health and environmental needs of the globe, the World Customs Organization has aptly decided the slogan for International Customs Day (ICD) for the year 2020 as, “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”.

In most of the countries including Pakistan, Customs is known more for clearance of goods imported into and exported out of the country and generating revenue. However, in the developed countries, it is seen as a department that brings economic prosperity by ensuring that goods demanded in the market of one country are supplied from the other country in the shortest possible time so that capital rolls over quickly and by protecting businesses against illegal trade and copyright infringements.

In these countries, it is also known for prevention of inflow and outflow of items which are harmful to social safety and public like weapons, drugs, medicines, expired and unhealthy food items and for protection of environment against ozone depleting substances.

The role of Customs to combat illegal international money transaction has also been fully recognized in the developed world. I feel that awareness about these “non-revenue generation” roles of Customs is lacking not only amongst public but also amongst most of the members of Customs family in the country.

Announcement of the theme of “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”, by WCO for this year’s Customs day not only provides us the opportunity to highlight these lesser known important role of Customs in the country but also to reaffirm our commitment as Customs officers to provide best service towards the triple Ps identified by WCO that is People, Prosperity & Planet.


Articles


RAZA BALOCH COLLECTOR (APPRAISEMENT & FACILITATION), QUETTA

CUSTOMS FOSTERING SUSTAINABILITY FOR PEOPLE, PROSPERITY AND THE PLANET

Pakistan Customs along with International Customs fraternity is celebrating International Customs Day (ICD) on 26 January 2020 with the slogan “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”. The commemorations for the Day will highlight the role and contributions of Pakistan Customs for ensuring sustainable future for its people, making right choices for inclusive economic growth and prosperity, and enforcing International conventions and obligations to save the planet.

Being the guardians of economic frontiers, Pakistan Customs has always been on the vanguard to modernize itself and keep pace with the global changes and the trends. It has successfully demonstrated its capability by implementing indigenously designed automation based trade facilitation initiatives like Web Based One Customs (WeBOC) which provides paperless processing for 90% of cross border trade. Pakistan Customs has also electronically linked itself with 14 different regulatory authorities in the country and all major commercial banks under INTRA (Integration of Regulatory Authorities) program. The enhanced integration of various agencies in the WEBOC system facilitated thejoint physical inspections of the cargos at the ports. These initiatives played a vital role for elevating Pakistan by 28 places and the country rose to 108th rank in the global ease of Doing Business rankings this year from 136 the previous year.

Recognizing the critical role of free flow of the legitimate goods-in-trade in the prosperity and wellbeing of the people, Pakistan Customs has always centered its focus to equip itself with the modern tools, gadgetries and techniques for timely interception of unsafe, unhealthy, counterfeit and environmentally hazardous goods to protect the society and the planet for their harmful effects. Pakistan Customs has developed a robust Risk Management System (RMS) to intercept the across border illegal / concealed movement of dangerous goods through formal and informal routes. In collaboration with UN Environment, Pakistan Customs got its officers trained in identification and detection of across the border movement of banned Ozone Depleting substances. The recent remarkable seizure of 18,000 Kgs of smuggled refrigerant R-22 speaks of our commitment and resolve to ensure sustainable future for the planet through implementation of Montreal Protocol. Mr. Dechen Tsering, UN Environment’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific while appreciating Pakistan Customs efforts said “It’s vital we stay vigilant. All credit to Pakistan’s Customs — for taking actions to prevent this destructive shipment from getting to its intended destination”.

Pakistan Customs also made a giant leap in the year 2017-18by framing ‘Rules’to control illegal trade of fake, counterfeit and pirated products across the borders. The Directorate General Intellectual Property Right Enforcement being cognizant of the adverse impacts of pirated / counterfeit products on human health, environment and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) constituted special teams to interdict IPR violating goods. In the ongoing financial year, the Directorate General has seized IPR violating goods of valuing Rs 146 million in 88 cases.

Asia Europe Meeting Association (ASEM) and European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) also launched the Joint Customs Operation (JCO)Hygeia. On joining JCO Hygeia in March 2019,nationwide alerts were issued across the country focusing on interdiction of IPR violating Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs). Out of 38 countries, Pakistan’s performance was at the top with 12 seizures/forfeitures. The seized goods included counterfeit Sensodyne toothpaste, Perfumes, Insecticides, Fairness & Analgesic creams, Shoe Polishes and Battery Cells etc. These efforts were highly acknowledge by MNCs i.e Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser, GSK, Toshiba, Johnsons and P&G to name but few.

IPR’s vigilance at ports for finished goods and packaging materials is instrumental for us in curbing counterfeits.
Our revenue growth during the year 2017-18 by 16% is largely due to Customs border enforcement measures.
I would appreciate your department’s efforts in curtailing counterfeit imports in Pakistan. We are highly impressed by the commitment show-cased at every level of interaction with Customs.
The client (Toshiba) is highly impressed by your performance, which is the highest in the region.
We are pleased to see the pro-active approach of Pakistan Customs in anti-counterfeiting activities.
Customs is the first line of defense against counterfeit imports. We have constantly received great support from IPR (South) in seizing thousands of counterfeit shampoo bottles

The enforcement steps of Pakistan Customs was also applauded by Ms. Kristiane Backer, author of publication “From MTV to Mecca” on impounding fake copies of the said publication on her complaint. The fake books were printed in UK and exported to Pakistan. This case is first of its kind which has earned a great honor for Pakistan.

In order to protect its people from harmful effects of narcotics and psychotropic substances,   unhealthy and unsafe edible products. Pakistan Customs anti-smuggling outfits have always been on the forefront and seized huge quantities thereof through life threatening operations. In the CFY the contribution in these areas are as under:

Narcotics & Psychotropic Substances

(Charas, Opium, Heroin, Ice Drug etc)

2261 Kgs Rs. 4271 million
Betel Nuts 1721 MT Rs. 1400million
Gutka 8430 MT Rs. 352 million
Cigarettes 37940Packets Rs. 285 million

Pakistan Customs has always accorded its foremost duty to protect local industry, an engine of employment generation and economic growth, from harmful effects of across the border informal trade. In the ongoing financial year, the Customs seized smuggled goods of valuing Rs. 12620 million which includes non-duty paid vehicles, cloth, and POL products etc.

Pakistan still needs to upgrade Information Communication Technology (ICT) based coordination and decision making among various regulatory authorities and Customs. National Single Window (NSW) is a platform that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents using a single-entry to fulfill all import, export and transit related regulatory requirements. The Prime Minister’s Office designated Pakistan Customs as the lead agency for implementation of an ICT based trade related NSW.FBR / Customs after legal gap analysis proposed a new Pakistan Single Window (PSW) law which once enacted will bring 72 regulatory authorities / departments / ministries under one platform to promote growth and business in the country by reducing its cost.

Pakistan Customs has also launched first trade facilitation program under the name and banner of “Authorized Economic Operators(AEO)”. The program has been chalked out in line with the best international practices and in accordance with WCO security standards. Under the said program, Government will certify trustworthy business entities who have a clean history of compliance with national laws and, in return, a policy of maximum facilitation by all government departments to promote growth of their businesses. Initially, AEO Program will be implemented on export stage to boost national exports and creation of jobs. Subsequently, ambit of AEO Program will be extended to other sectors of the economy for maximum facilitation.

The aforesaid initiatives of Pakistan Customs speaks of professionalism, commitment and dedication among its officers to guard the economic frontiers of the country without compromising Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”.


SANAULLAH ABRO, (ADDITIONAL COLLECTOR ISLAMABAD AIRPORT)

PAKISTAN CUSTOMS – PROGRAMS FOR NATIONAL SECURITY, SAFETY AND PROSPERITY OF PEOPLE AND PLANET

Pakistan Customs is celebrating International Customs Day (ICD) on 26 January 2020 with full zeal and fervor highlighting its contributions to towards sustainability of secure borders, facilitation of trade, economic competitiveness, safety and property of people and planet.

What Customs do globally and how Custom is assuming its changing role in fast changing business patterns and governmental priorities needs to be considered seriously. Globally, Customs’ core functions constitute revenue collection and protection of society by implementing the trade policies and fighting against smuggling and drug networks. But in recent times particularly after the turn of 21st century, 9/11 and Agreement on Trade Facilitation (ATF), Customs has assumed and expanded towards the functions like security of borders, trade facilitation and fight against various types of illicit trade. In recent past, after growth of multilateralism, international trade has emerged as a driving force for economies which has created an urgent need for creating an environment for economic competitiveness in order to foster sustainable economic growth, efficient revenue generation and supporting legitimate businesses and enterprises.  To these developments, the response of Pakistan Customs though initially remained sluggish due its internal organizational issues, yet it has been able to embark upon a number of modernization programs to meet the challenges of 21st century and achieve the transformed objectives of national security and economic competitiveness.

Although Pakistan Customs faced skewed organizational development after World Bank reforms in 2010-11 yet it came out with indigenized program of Customs modernization where Customs clearance procedures were harmonized, automated and hinged on the risk based systems as envisaged by the Revised Kyoto Convention. After previous reforms attempt, the reliance on the collection of indirect taxes grew enormously and touched almost 50% figure of total FBR revenue generation being collected by Customs at import stage which adversely affected the factors of production, cash flow of businesses and growth of small and medium enterprises. Amid continued financial dependence on Customs, organizations successfully completed a number of projects for achieving sustainable growth and economic competitiveness.

The major initiatives includeWeb Based One Customs (WeBOC) a risk based online clearance system which is a critical instrument reducing the dwell time of clearance of goods at ports significantly, saving time and cost of businesses, eliminating port congestion thus increasing the competitiveness of Pakistan economy. The second major initiative was the project “Safe Environment” developing capability of monitoring and tracking by electronic tracking the Afghan Transit Trade. The initiative came up after the scandalous Afghan transit case by the apex court and it provided technology driven solution for seamless flow of transit trade. An other significant project which currently is passing through the phases of development is ‘National Single Window’ (NSW) an initiative led by Pakistan customs which will transform the existing business processes and regulatory environment of more than 40 Other Government Organization (OGAs) responsible to regulate trade across borders. This will further reduce the cost of business significantly and create economic and trading competitiveness in the region.

Pakistan Customs is also redefining its enforcement role in ever changing environment. It is striving to head on the challenge of illicit trade present in the form of smuggling of goods and trafficking of drugs across borders severely damaging local businesses and communities. Illicit trade covers comprehensively all types of criminal activities related to trade and businesses damaging economy, security and safety of people. Notably it covers evasion of duty and taxes including fiscal frauds, money laundering, smuggling, drug trafficking, counterfeits and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) violations, illegal trade in the goods damaging environment, wild life and artifacts. Pakistan Customs has come up with a comprehensive reform initiative namely Border Management initiative (BMI) to respond to the challenge of illicit trade. Government has agreed in principle to the BMI plan and implementation process has been already set in.

Two other well known Customs programs recently started by Pakistan Customs are: Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) and National Targeting Center (NTC) Program. First is critical towards greater trade facilitation under the WCO SAFE frame work of standards where traders will be exposing their supply chain to Customs audit by making their processes transparent where by they will be enjoying hassle free clearance of their imports and exports possibly maintaining zero inventory and just in time production lines making their business competitive and sustainable. On the enforcement side, the development of National Targeting System would empower Customs to evaluate large volumes of manifest data coming from airlines and shipping lines vetting the suspected passengers and shipments from number of other national data bases and criminal records targeting criminals and risky consignments in advance before they reach to the borders of Pakistan to make country secure and society safer building sustainable and competitive environment for international trade in Pakistan.


SHOAIB RAZA, DEPUTY COLLECTOR, DIRECTORATE OF POST CLEARANCE AUDIT, KARACHI

TRADE FACILITATION & ROLE OF AN EFFECTIVE POST CLEARANCE AUDIT REGIME

The international trade is under constant pressure from the challenges like terrorism, trade agreements, smuggling of contrabands and trade barriers etc. The role of customs becomes more indispensable in this context. Customs administrations have to ensure a safe, secure and facilitated trade controls with key focus on revenue collection and enforcement.

Interestingly, the slogan of this year International Customs Day, 26 th January 2020, “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”, has highlighted the importance of safe and secure supply chain network.

A progressive trade activity in a region directly contributes towards a politically peaceful, economically empowered and environmentally healthy society. World economies demand smooth and secure supply chain networks of goods and services along with automated documented economic system.

The trade regulation while ensuring implementation of national and international trade laws, barriers and agreements have far reaching social, economic, health and environmental impacts. In line with international standards, Pakistan Customs is committed to core customs function of trade enforcement and facilitation.

In 1980, Milton Friedman presented the concept of establishing world peace within the framework of free market economy, highlighting the impact of trade flow from production to distribution till the reach of end consumer. Trade within European Union is a vivid example that how trade can bring an overall harmony and prosperity in a region.

But, actually, it poses a real time challenge for customs administrations. Threats couple with need of facilitation in the shape of speedy clearances has increased the importance of post importation audit.

The Directorate General of Post Clearance Audit has performed well as being a monitoring agency to counter check the clearances made through various custom stations and ports.

In this backdrop, for obvious reasons, the detailed aspects of customs’ verification of valuation, classification, importability and admissibility of concessional regime and trade agreements is not possible at the time of clearance of imported and exported cargo. Moreover, a detailed scrutiny of each customs declaration will result in piling up to a never-ending clearance process as well as congested ports and disrupted supply chain networks.

That instead of tightening the customs controls at import and export stage, which may result into delayed clearances and enhanced dwell time, Customs administration has to establish and develop a formation for post clearance verification, emphasizing post importation tightening of customs controls. Directorate General of Post Clearance Audit; a specialized wing of Pakistan Customs, is fully operational since June 2009.

The Directorate General of Post Clearance Audit has been instrumental in automated green channel clearances. Today’s ever-increasing trade regime expects swift and hassle-free customs clearances for various types of imports and exports. Not only the domestic economy requires state of the art risk-based clearance mechanism but international trade agreements and guidelines also demanded customs clearances on modern lines.

Therefore, a robust and dynamic risk management system has also been in placed to facilitate both bona-fide trade as well as targeted audit of various sectors and entities. By risk based targeted post clearance audit, each case is processed under a well-defined audit policy formed in the light of risk parameters based on the key notes of trade facilitation and legitimate revenue collection.

Risk management-based customs clearance policy has not only defined the scope of Directorate General of Post Clearance Audit but also enabled Pakistan Customs to allocate apt human as well as other physical resources required to perform core customs operations and functions at various directorates & collectorates level. This way, Pakistan Customs has increased both its efficiency and effectiveness, while indigenous trade and industry has also responded with quality level compliance accordingly. It is worth mentioning that a well-organized post clearance mechanism has also augment the documented economy in the country.

In the wake of World Customs Organization SAFE framework, the role of post clearance audit organization is going to be more crucial in future. World Customs Organization adopted international “SAFE framework” in 2005.

Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) is one of the pillars of the said framework. Entities registered under SAFE framework will be given a far superior facilitation protocol regarding customs clearances and procedures. Also, the World Trade Organization sponsored Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which entered into force on February 2017 puts an added responsibility for expeditious movement, release and clearance of imported goods.

This way the role of customs administrations become critical in social, economic and environmental context, while handling huge trade volume, challenging speedy clearances and implementing international agreements and laws. The Directorate General of Post Clearance Audit, committed to strengthen the national economy by means of a secure and facilitated trade regime, has been following a targeted and modern approach to make Pakistan Customs a leading agency in trade regulation.


MUHAMMAD FAISAL, DEPUTY COLLECTOR, DIRECTORATE OF REFORMS AND AUTOMATION KARACHI

PAKISTAN CUSTOMS FOSTERING ECONOMIC PROSPERITY BY ILLICIT TRADE

Economy plays a vital role for the development of any country. A plethora of problems which inflicted many a dent and deformity in economic growth of the nation needs to be identified and corrected. One of the panaceas to treat the ill economy is providing safe and secure business environment in international trade. We are supposed to review our existing scheme of things and set new roles with a view to achieving economic goals and contributing towards thriving business activities. Since business has direct relation with security, therefore, an all embracing security is prerequisite for substantial and consistent economic growth specially when a battalion of corrupt practices engulfed the ailing economy in a quagmire of terrorism viz-a-viz  asymmetrical balance of trade and payment. In this grim scenario, the role of Customs authorities is of prime importance in order to bring about positive economic boom.

Pakistan Customs also plays a pivotal role with reference to the security. The WCO has incorporated into the Framework a third pillar on cooperation between Customs and other governmental and intergovernmental bodies, the first pillar being dedicated to Customs Cooperation and the second to Customs-Business Cooperation. The third pillar recognizes the importance of Cooperation between Customs and other government bodies involved in the international supply chain. This pillar is, therefore, aimed at strengthening cooperation ties within each of these actors and between them, in order to effectively and efficiently address the challenges of supply chain security while facilitating legitimate trade. Co-operation is at three levels: Cooperation within the government, Cooperation between governments and within governments, and multinational cooperation.

The rapid and efficient clearance of goods increases the participation of domestic firms in the global market and can have a significant impact on the economic competitiveness of nations by encouraging investment and industry development. It also allows more small and medium-sized enterprises to participate in international trade. The commitment to implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) could result in major administrative, technical and infrastructural constraints. Indeed, Customs administrations, the mainstay of the implementation of the agreement, are in a material, human and institutional situation that gives them little opportunity to perform efficiently their trade facilitation mission. Customs controls have recently been assigned a new purpose of security with the implementation of new provisions, in application of the SAFE standards recommended by the World Customs Organization to secure the flow of international trade.

In cyberspace, commercial exchanges are made exclusively on the basis of depersonalized relationships, and often, anonymously. Payments are no longer made in currency guaranteed by a State. Indeed, customers pay for  their purchases in a multitude of new virtual currencies, of which Bitcoin is the best known. Moreover, in this illicit trade, the very concept of merchandise has changed, and it is often dematerialized goods, which cannot physically pass from hand to hand. The most dangerous traffickers buy goods based solely on algorithms, such as malware, Trojans, botnets, ransomware and spam made available by malicious sellers in both developing and developed countries. The losses associated with these intangible products today represent considerable amounts.

It is in the field of environmental crime that the illicit trade is experiencing its strongest growth. As the planet’s resources dwindle and the world’s population continues to grow, the resources needed to survive are under increasing pressure. Both illegal trade actors and corrupt officials benefit from the planet’s limited resources and exploit the market demand for endangered species, including rhinoceros horns, elephant tusks and protected tree species.

As part of its specific control tasks in the field of safety and security of air and port cargo, Customs is in charge of the prevention and it aims to secure international flow of goods. In addition, Customs is directly involved in the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction through the Container Security Initiative (CSI) program and the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). Pakistan Customs, like Customs of developed countries, strives hard to provide secure and safe business environment to the country by using a seamless and automated Custom clearance system for trade. Pakistan Customs has implemented a homegrown solution through WeBOC System i.e. the Web-based One Customs System (WeBOC). All the goods are tackled here with a robust Risk Management Unit which gets activated immediately on the basis of risks parameters incorporated in the system wherever and whenever system protocols are violated.

In a world where demand drives up prices and shortages often contribute to the growth of illegal markets and the black market, illicit trade results in the depletion of natural resources. To bring about such a change requires much more than a change in trade regulations, it also requires control of the world’s population and the pressure it exerts on the balance of the planet. There is a need to rethink the financial system in order to provide more transparency, restructure the corporate world to focus on accountability and put in place anti-corruption measures to combat those who promote illicit trade. We must find the means to control the harmful non-state actors that are the big winners of the globalization of trade.

Taking advantage of these opportunities will enable Pakistan Customs to protect the fiscal and financial interests of the state, protect national economies from the illicit movement of goods, support the international trading system by ensuring a level playing field for all businesses to facilitate legitimate trade and protect society. The benefits of an adaptable Customs administration, focused on strategic objectives, are immense and in particular make it possible for lawful companies to reduce the costs related to the legislation, to target in a more efficient and profitable manner high-risk goods and to establish among Customs administrations a climate of trust and mutual recognition of each other’s programs and controls.


DR. AMNA NAEEM, DEPUTY COLLECTOR, MCC PREVENTIVE, KARACHI

PAKISTAN CUSTOMS SHINES IN THE FRATERNITY OF WORLD CUSTOMS

Pakistan Customs pays a befitting tribute to the noteworthy contributions and untiring efforts of Customs Officers all over the world by commemorating International Customs Day on 26th January every year along with the world customs fraternity. This year’s theme chosen by the World Customs Organization for the year 2020 bears the slogan “CUSTOMS FOSTERING SUSTAINABILITY FOR PEOPLE, PROSPERITY AND THE PLANET”, and is dedicated to the contributions of  Customs fraternity including Pakistan Customs towards a sustainable future where the social, economic, and environmental needs are ensured globally. No slogan other than the one outlined by WCO could have better described the need of accomplishment of UN SDGs (Social Development Goals)  for the Agenda 2030.

The world is facing an overall sustainability crisis and Pakistan Customs has been scaling up its best practices for fostering sustainability for people, prosperity and the planet. In order to protect licit money, Pakistan Customs has taken vigorous steps such as the establishment of a Financial Action Task Force Cell. One of the FATF’s major recommendations for Pakistan Customs is to effectively deal with currency smuggling; a source of trade-based money laundering and terror financing, and to install a system for tracking the money trail. For enhancing international cooperation in controlling smuggling, Pakistan Customs has so far signed 22 MoUs/ agreements with foreign governments/ customs administrations for multilateral cooperation. Furthermore, after an overall assessment of risks of cash smuggling through border areas and entry points, Pakistan Customs Operations has embarked upon an extensive ‘Risk Mitigation Strategy’ to curb cash smuggling

In an effort to curb money-laundering, terrorist financing and other similar threats, Pakistan Customs has made it mandatory for passengers traveling abroad to declare any foreign currency they are carrying at arrival and departure at Currency Declaration Counters that have been set up at all International airports for this purpose. To widen the scope, a new Directorate of Cross Border Currency Movement (CBCM) has recently been established under Directorate General (I & I-Customs), aimed at targeting suspected banking transactions, maintenance of seizure database and sharing of currency seizure cases with other LEAs etc. Furthermore, in liaison with Chinese Customs , a project Green Corridor at Sust-Khunjerab border has also been initiated to curb under-invoicing and money-laundering across the borders to enhance trade and to keep a check across borders.

In order to increase border effectiveness Pakistan Customs has further embarked on restructuring of enforcement formations by the introduction of Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) at the international airports, and establishing a National Targeting Centre, which shall serve as an integrated database of all LEAs working against the menace of smuggling. Global Travelers’ Assessment (GTAS) system has also been launched at airports for conducting Risk Assessment of both inbound and outbound passengers. 

International trade plays an imminent role in supporting a prosperous, sustainable and resilient economy which falls under the umbrella of prosperity. In order to reduce time and cost of moving goods across the border and to streamline the trade activities, the NSW (National Single Window) is a quantum leap from the paper based management of Pakistan’s external trade involving 44 different government departments responsible to regulate different aspects of imports, exports and transit trade. This is a huge step towards achieving ease of doing business and will result in securing competitiveness to facilitate trade, attract investment, achieve integration into global value chains and be a regional hub for trade and transit. 

Pakistan Customs has made all efforts in the domain of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) laws especially at the import and export stage for ensuring the health and economic safety of public through eradication of the smuggling of counterfeit goods.

Environmental protection goes hand in hand with economic prosperity and supports the achievement of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Pakistan Customs is enhancing its measures through automation and strictly following the Basel Convention which restricts the movement of all types of wastes.  Pakistan has previously been used as a dumping ground for disposal of different types of wastes including, plastics, electronics (e-waste) and used edible/ cooking oil etc.  In this respect, Pakistan Customs is closely working in liaison with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Pakistan at the national and provincial levels.  In addition to the EPA, Pakistan Customs is monitoring the flow of all these substances through the automated system of clearances having a dynamic Risk Management System.  The application of Revised Kyoto Convention in its true letter and spirit is also a major contributor in developing Pakistan as a sustainable society.  Pakistan is also signatory to Montreal Protocol which restricts the movement of Ozone Depleting Substances like CFC based refrigerators, aerosol sprays and other items contributing to climate change.  Enforcing such protocols and conventions in their true spirit by Pakistan Customs shows its resolve and commitment towards fostering sustainability for the planet and its people.

Hence, on this important day, we renew our pledge to make this planet a safe, healthy and prosperous heaven for our generations to inhabit by adopting global best practices to achieve economic growth and development.


UMAIR ZAHID, ASSISTANT COLLECTOR, MCC PREVENTIVE, KARACHI

PRIMACY OF PAKISTAN CUSTOMS’ STRIKING SEIZURES AND TIMELY-INTERVENTIONS IN AMELIORATING SOCIETY, ENSURING PROSPERITY AND BETTERING ENVIRONMENT

Looking through the lenses of fleeting times, this year’s slogan of World Customs Organization (WCO) of “Customs Fostering Sustainability for people, prosperity and planet”, seems to resonate with few noteworthy developments of the preceding year. In bolstering these WCO objectives, Pakistan Customs has played a tremendously pivotal role in combating the illicit trade and smuggling of goods and cash, keeping under-invoicing and over-invoicing -in-check, protecting the masses from spurious medicines/psychotropic/intoxicating drugs and counterfeit products, and shielding the ozone layer from emission of hazardous chemicals.Lastly,an immortal sacrifice and everlasting contribution to the cause of curbing black economy was made by the  Deputy Collector of MCC Quetta, Abdul Qudoos Sheikh, rendering his life in the line of duty, last year.

The operational arm of Pakistan Customs has taken vigorous actions to counter illicit movement of currency, which is the primary tool used for money laundering. The lead taken by Customs Operations FBR, and the effective control measures implemented by enforcement collectorates against currency smuggling has led to record seizures of approx. Rs. 450 million during July 2018 to April 2019, against seizures of Rs.150 million in the corresponding period last year, exhibiting an increase of more than 200%. During the year 2019, more than 30 persons have been arrested for currency smuggling, with ongoing investigations to unearth their domestic/international linkages. This remarkable achievement is a result of various policy and institutional measures taken under Customs Operations – FBR and the field formations. After an overall assessment of risks of Cash Smuggling through border areas and entry points, the Customs Operations – FBR is embarked upon an extensive ‘Risk Mitigation Strategy’ to curb cash smuggling.

A new Directorate of Cross Border Currency Movement (CBCM), was also established under Directorate General (I & I-Customs), through Customs General Order (CGO) 04/2019 dated 06.05.2019.The CGO defines its charter and scope of functions such as, analysis and profiling of currency seizures/declarations, suspected banking transactions, maintenance of seizure database and sharing of currency seizure cases with other Law Enforcement Agencies, institution of money-laundering cases emanating from suspicious banking transactions and investigation and prosecution of cases under AML Act, 2010, Customs Act, 1969 and CrPC. Under the said order, the guidelines have also been provided to the Investigative Officers for improving investigations such as investigation of accused/arrested person(s) association with any religious/political/social organization or group(s), travel history, past criminal record, professional history, etc., along with the motive/linkages of each currency smuggling case with any of the associated offence, identification of involvement of any foreign networks other than trans-national terrorist networks in the seizures data. In addition, an Office Order 01/2019 dated 10.04.2019 was issued, providing a proper mechanism for investigating officers of seizing agency to conduct initial probe of Terror Financing (TF) linkages in all currency seizures, and sharing it with the relevant LEA, through Directorates of CBCM.

In another significant case of a largest seizure of a novel kind for Pakistan, customs authorities confiscated 18,000 kilogrammes of the smuggled refrigerant (R-22 also known as HCFC-22 refrigerant, a powerful ozone-depleting substance and greenhouse gas) at Karachi Port in mid-October, as was also reported in United Nations Environment Programme publications, 2019. Countries around the world are phasing out hydro chloro-fluorocarbons like R-22 under the Montreal Protocol, the treaty that protects the ozone layer. According to the latest Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion, actions taken under the Montreal Protocol are resulting in steady, long-term decreases in the atmospheric abundance of controlled ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) and the ongoing recovery of stratospheric ozone at a rate of 1 to 3 per cent per decade since 2000.

“All credit to Pakistan’s customs and the National Ozone Unit in the Ministry of Climate Change, for taking action to prevent this destructive shipment from getting to its intended destination. The ozone layer has been healing thanks to the Montreal Protocol, strict regulations against ozone-depleting substances like R-22 and strong enforcement”,remarked Dechen Tsering, UN Environment’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific(UN Environment Programme Publication,2019).

The Directorate General of IPR Enforcement (Pakistan Customs) which was established for enforcement of IPR laws of Pakistan especially at the import and export stage, has made massive seizures in the protection of society and masses at large,hence forwarding the mission and core values of World Intellectual Property organization (WIPO).

The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is one of the three pillars of WTO and include Copyright, Industrial designs & IC layouts, Trade Marks, Patents, Geographical indications etc,and the directorate through its many seizures has safeguarded the interests of business communities especially those of Multinationals operating in the country, while simultaneously blocking the entry of hazardous counterfeit products in the markets which would otherwise have endangered the public safety. Pakistan also clinched top position in Joint Customs Operations (JCO) final report wherein 38 countries from Europe and Asia presented their performance against counterfeit and infringing “fast moving consumer goods’ at HYGIEA Rome, in 2019.

Towards the end of year 2019, MCC Islamabad, made remarkable advances by seizing expired and spurious medicines, substandard antibiotics/fake supplements and large quantity of drugs from different pharmacies of the city. The masses were henceforth saved from the adversarial medicinal effects of these confiscated items.

United Nations offices on Drugs and Crime(UNODC), in the beginning of the year 2020,has also committed to expanding its technical support to the Government of Pakistan, in addressing its priority needs and vision to attain Sustainable Development Goal 16: ‘Promoting Peace, Justice, and Institutional Development’. In the recent meeting at MCC Preventive, Karachi, the officials of UNODC were sensitized about Pakistan Customs’ wider mandate, particularly its lead on anti-smuggling efforts in the country, as recently delegated by the Prime Minister. Furthermore, the officials were also briefed that Pakistan Customs also has jurisdiction at sea, and operates across 200 nautical miles and it  prevents smuggling activities independently through port control units , as well as in collaboration with Postal Guards and Pakistan Marine Security Agency, as well as the fact that border check posts also curtail illicit drug and contrabands trafficking.

The sustainability of enabling and conducive factors and diminishing destructive factors, result in the longevity of the organism. Through such aforementioned measures, and timely interventions, Pakistan Customs has fostered sustainability and has endeavored to diminish the destructive forces for people, prosperity and the environment. The enhancement of organizational resources, technical capacity building drives, and continued governmental support would further augment the achievement of WCO objectives, besides keeping the morale of the service higher than ever.


AADARSH JAWAHERY, ASSISTANT COLLECTOR, MCC PREVENTIVE, KARACHI

PAKISTAN CUSTOMS AND INTERNATIONAL COMMITMENTS

The 26th January is being celebrated as “International Customs Day” all across the world. The day commemorates the inaugural session of Customs Cooperation Council (CCC) in 1953, probably the first transnational customs council, which was created to foster partnership and close cooperation between European states in the postwar period. It was attended by 17 European countries at that time. Later, in 1994, the council was expanded to meet changing needs of time and maintain cooperation with countries outside Europe; hence the CCC was changed into World Customs Organization (WCO) which has 179 countries across the world as its member.

Every year, WCO introduces special slogan, around which the day is celebrated .The slogans shed light on the role of Customs Officers in maintaining the safety and security of the economic operations, nationally and for the world at large.  Last year, WCO introduced the slogan of “SMART borders for seamless Trade, Travel and Transport”, to highlight the importance of free trade and freedom of movement in fostering prosperity across the globe. This year, it has come up with the slogan:  “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”. The WCO is focusing on the role of Customs in creating a sustainable future of our planet earth. The slogan also invites discussion and debate on the areas where actions of Custom officials can contribute to the social, economic, health and environmental needs of the people. As an important member of WCO, Pakistan Customs understands the importance of theme and would like to reflect on the role it is playing for fostering prosperity both within and outside the borders of Pakistan.

Home to more than 200 million People, Pakistan is among world’s most populated countries. In order to provide sustainable living atmosphere to the large bulk of this population, it is extremely important to regulate the economic activities in the country, without which people would be at severe economic disadvantage resulting in social misery, mayhem and chaos. Smooth trade and efficient tax collection are two areas which can contribute to economic well-being of a country and its people. As a guardian of country’s economic frontiers, Pakistan Customs significantly contributes to both these areas. It not only acts against the illicit trade activities, illegitimate trade, smuggling, money-laundering and the movement of contraband goods but is also a major source of revenue for the government of Pakistan. Last year, Pakistan Customs seized 485 million in the illegal trade of money. This currency seizure was 208 % more than the money that was seized in FY 2017-2018. It also seized the smuggled goods worth 31.7 billion rupees, which was 22.5 more than the smuggling seizures of previous year. Moreover, it collected about 46 percent of the total revenue of FBR for the FY- 2018-19, in duty and taxes for the government of Pakistan.  All these activities had significantly contributed to the national treasury which bears the responsibility of providing sustenance 200 million people of Pakistan. Moreover, it had also contributed to smooth flow of trade where illegal actors were discouraged from polluting the healthy business climate. The vigilance of this organization can be gauged from the fact that last year, its brave officer, Dr. Qudoos Shaikh also laid down his life while acting against the smugglers in Quetta. The brave officers of Pakistan Customs always place duty above everything else when it comes to safeguarding the integrity of this country and the wellbeing of its people.

The operations of Pakistan Customs are not limited to Pakistan. It  is also playing important role in providing ease of doing business to the landlocked countries in Central Asia along with Afghanistan. The Afghan transit trade is one of the most glaring examples in this regard. Pakistan Customs regulate on day to day basis, 300 to 350 consignments to Afghanistan which are imported from different parts of the world. On the other hand, about 6000 consignments of Afghan exports yearly designated for different countries transit through Pakistan. Along with regulating economic activities, it is also concerned with the principles of equity and fair-play in doing business.  Last year, Pakistan Customs intercepted expired Sugar which was being exported to Afghanistan by India. The Sindh Environment Protection Agency, along with Pakistan Customs inspected the consignment and banned their further movement to Afghanistan as the sugar was declared unfit for human consumption. This way, the organization not only performs its duty for the wellbeing of its own people but also significantly contributes to the social, physical and economic prosperity of its neighbor. This also fosters Pakistan’s image internationally, as a country committed to principles of fair-play and economic prosperity beyond its borders.

This year’s slogan of WCO also brings the area environment into the focus. At this front, Pakistan Customs has established one prime example for the international customs community. In 2018, a huge consignment of ozone depleting refrigerant gas R-22, also known as HCFC-22, amounting to 18,000 KG, was being shipped to Pakistan. R-22 gas is restricted under the Import Policy Order in vogue and is being phased out under Montreal Protocol because of its anti-ozone composition. Instead, R-32 is encouraged for the usage in Air- Conditioners and Refrigerators. One consignment, “R-32— mildly Inflammable” was declared by the consignee but the Customs Deputy Collector Muhammad Asim Awan suspected the consignment since R-32 is not highly inflammable gas. He, under supervision of UN-trained Customs officer ADC Rehmatullah Vistro stopped the consignment. The expertise of United Nations Environment Program were sought in order to ascertain the situation. The subject consignment was tested via Digital Gas Analyzer, and it became apparent that the subject consignment contained R-22 gas which is hazardous for the environment and restricted / banned for the import. The Officials immediately seized the consignment and saved the world from an environmental disaster. If this container was allowed to enter the country, the greenhouse effect from this shipment alone would have meant burning 132 million kilograms of coal. The vigilant Custom officials averted the catastrophe. Along with government of Pakistan, their services were acknowledged by UN Environmental Program.

Suffice is it to say that this year’s slogan ““Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet” for the international Customs day highlights the scope of duties of Customs officials which has expanded with time and considerably affect the life of people across the globe. Pakistan Customs, as an important member of WCO, is mindful of the fact that countries prosper when the social, physical, economic and environmental needs of the people are taken care of. With its strategic vision 2019-2024, Pakistan Customs is all set to meet the targets and challenges of the coming times. It shall continue to play its role fostering the prosperity both within and beyond the borders of Pakistan. 


ZAINAB HAYAT, PREVENTIVE OFFICER, MCC PREVENTIVE, KARACHI

PAKISTAN CUSTOMS; FOSTERING SUSTAINABLITY AND PROSPERITY

ICD, the International Customs Day, 2020, is being celebrated by the Customs administrations of 170 WCO member states.  Pakistan, as one of the member states, also marks the day with the hoisting of national and customs flag, national anthem, followed by a seminar held on the theme provided by the World Customs Organization.  The Secretary General WCO Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, has conveyed the message to all Customs Administration that this year all members should dedicate their efforts to contribute their role in developing a sustainable future where social, economic, health and environmental needs are at the heart of our actions with the slogan “Customs fostering sustainability for people, prosperity and the planet“.  WCO’s message for the year 2020, is in consonance with the UN SGDS 2030.

The UN agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. For the this purpose, achieving the goal of eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan. It is resolved by the UN member states to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and to secure our planet. For this purpose, determination for taking bold and transformative steps are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. As the UN embarked on this collective journey, they pledge that no one will be left behind. All the member states in view of their commitment with the planet and the people had to fulfil their commitment and obligations.

Pakistan Customs is the guardian of economic frontiers of the country.  Over the years, Pakistan Customs has progressed a lot in fostering sustainability for people, prosperity and the planet.  Pakistan Customs has followed the Revised Kyoto Convention in its true spirit. The clearance mechanisms have been moved from manual to electronic and from electronic to web based systems.  A state of the art system which is now dealing with the clearance and movement of almost all types of cargo, whether it is meant for Home Consumption or Transit to Afghanistan. Introduction of sealing system and on top of it, the live monitoring of the cargo has not only made the supply chain secure but has also created a lot of employment opportunities for the people.

Pakistan Customs is actively following World Customs Organization in following the Safe Framework of Standards.  The introduction of Authorized Economic Operators will give a boost to the importers and exporters qualifying under the given criteria.  This on one hand will expedite the seamless clearance but will also act as a tool in reducing the dwell time for the clearance of cargo.

Pakistan as a signatory to Montreal Protocol is strictly implementing the same to assist the climate change causing a lot of damage to the planet.  CFC based refrigeration systems and aerosols are now controlled and after a certain period of time the refills of CFC Gas shall not be allowed to be imported.

While moving forward, Pakistan Customs signed an MOU with the UNODC for implementation of UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme, which is a flagship program responsible for the identification of high risk containers being illicitly used in the international supply chain.  It is impossible for any customs administration to examine each and every cargo and selectivity methods are more favorable and useful techniques to be implemented. The use of artificial intelligence system and risk management system alone cannot produce the desired results, instead the combination of both can yield the desired results.  therefore, the cargo needs to be profiled on the basis of selectivity using artificial and human intelligence. port Control Units are accordingly focused for profiling High risk cargo with regards to drugs, precursors, IPR and money laundering issues. Customs in Pakistan has a complete network of these Port Control Units at both the sea ports of Karachi,  all the dry ports and two border stations which are linked to more than 60 countries across the globe.

Pakistan was amongst the first four countries selected for the pilot project way back in the year 2007 and the success of Container Control Programme resulted in its implementation in more than 50 countries across the globe.  Pakistan Customs also joined the joint initiative of Interpol and WCO under Program Global Shield. This program is being implemented through Container Control program and is responsible for monitoring the flow of 13 chemicals used for the manufacturing of IEDs.  Recently Pakistan Customs participated in Operation IMPEDE launched by the WCO wherein the flow of these chemicals were monitored in Pakistan. The implementation of CITES and controlling the illicit flow of flora and fauna is also being monitored by the officers of Pakistan Customs.  As a frontline organization in the fight against counterfeit goods, Pakistan Customs is monitoring the illicit movement of counterfeit goods and for this purpose a separate Directorate has been established.

The implementation of IPO Laws in Pakistan is also being done by Customs at the import/export stage, thus safeguarding the national economy and reputation of the country in the international trade supply chain.  Counterfeit medicines and medical equipments meant for saving human life are of utmost importance which are now being taken to task by the frontline officers of Pakistan Customs. Conventional methods of smuggling, and items prone to smuggling are also being seized in huge quantities.  World Drug Report is evident of the fact that more than 500 MT of Heroin is produced in Afghanistan and 40% of this finds its way to the international market through Pakistan. This menace is also being controlled and Pakistan Customs had a huge success when record seizure of Acetic Anhydride was made.

The introduction of Air Cargo Control Units is yet another effort of Pakistan Customs in fostering safety of the import and export air cargo.  Following the pattern of developed countries, all the stakeholders who are working in isolation, are being connected through the implementation of National Single Window (NSW).  Establishing the National Targeting Centre and deployment of World Customs Organization’s Cargo targeting System (CTS) will also be a feather in the cap of Pakistan Customs. CPEC is yet another challenge which encompasses a lot of special economic zones. Pakistan Customs has always been the lead agency to facilitate trade  in the form of speedy and seamless clearance of cargo from these zones, dry ports and seaports. With the help of international organizations and donors the International Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) at Torkham, Chaman and Wahgah are being installed . This is an international model for border clearance post where speedy Customs clearances shall be carried out.  Deployment of additional Non-Intrusive Inspection methods are also an aid towards trade facilitation.

We as an organization are dynamic and with the utilization of human and artificial intelligence we will endeavor to achieve the targets as envisaged in the message from Secretary General WCO.


Pictures


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments are closed.