Business

Customs Intelligence performance found wanting

KARACHI: The performance of the Customs Intelligence, one of the primary agencies of the Federal Government, tasked to deal with smuggling has come under severe critical scrutiny in recent weeks.

Several instances have come to light where Customs Intelligence have not played their due role or carried out their legally mandated responsibilities as tasked by the Federal Board of Revenue and the result has been that a loss has been incurred as far as customs and import duties are concerned.

Business and commerce circles in the country’s financial and trade capital Karachi say that they know of several cases where Customs Intelligence looked the other way and allowed in imports of contraband or illegal items or where the importer managed to avoid paying any duty. Big traders experience many times that their goods and shipments are stopped and money is literally extorted from them while intelligence officers let the black-market goods go freely.

The result in such cases is a considerable loss to the national exchequer, they said, and they said this was not only very unfortunate but also ironic given that Customs Intelligence comes under the FBR and its primary task is to enhance tax and duty collection.

On the other hand, they said, there have also been instances where the intelligence stopped shipments which were being imported into the country after fulfilling all legal and financial requirements.

This, they argued, was tantamount to stifling genuine trade activity and punishing the companies which tried to import goods needed for the country’s industrial and economic development.

Given that Customs Intelligence is an integral part of the Federal Board of Revenue’s tax and duty collection apparatus, it is imperative that the agency be brought under proper oversight of the federal finance ministry so that such acts of omission and commission are eliminated, the business and commerce circles said.

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