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Customs working to improve clearance mechanism | The Express Tribune

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KARACHI:

Member customs Mukarram Jah Ansari has indicated that the abolition of upfront payment of duties and taxes is in process. Speaking at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Ansari said modules for the export facilitation scheme will be included in the WeBOC system in the next 15 days.

Ansari informed businessmen that “450 customs valuations are pending and it is not possible to carry out all the valuations in a period of three months. However, they will be completed at the earliest and some obsolete valuations will be deleted”. He also encouraged the business community to come forward and make the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) programme a success, as it will reduce the cost of doing business and improve ease of doing business. “Pakistan Customs has been slow in adopting change and technological advancements, which has resulted in delays,” said Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) President Ismail Suttar.

“Customs officers take excessive time in the examination and assessment of containers. This delays the clearance process and thus dilutes the value for importers and exporters alike. It also creates incentives for corrupt practices,” Ismail explained. Pakistan Businesses Forum (PBF) CEO Ahmad Jawad said “Pakistan Customs should initiate a one-window facility for importers and exporters with the State Bank of Pakistan and other agencies such as DPP and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).

This will facilitate the business community in the timely clearance of goods from ports. Usually, there is a lack of coordination between departments, including those at cross-border points, which creates a sizable backlog.” Jawad added that an online complaint mechanism should be set up to address all the issues, concerns and grievances of the business community related to the clearance from Customs.

The absence of a container terminal regulation body, delay in refunds, unfair demurrage charges, lack of digitisation and inadequate investment in container scanners are major obstacles to the smooth running of Customs operations, he said. “In this regard, a special coordination desk should also be set up for the convenience of exporters, importers and industrialists. Branches should be established in trading centres and industrial areas where duty-related facilities are available,” he suggested.

“Importers and exporters need a friendly customs policy,” said Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) President Zulfikar Thaver. “There is a trust deficit as customs officials think there is under-invoicing to save on import duties or regulatory duties on exports,” he added





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