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No container was missing, say Afghanistan, ISAF

Afghan authorities and Nato's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have furnished in writing that they have received all their goods and nothing was found missing. When the issue of missing containers scam was raised by members at the inter-ministerial committee meeting for bilateral and Afghan Transit Trade held in Islamabad recently, FBR Officials informed that no Afghan authority or importer or ISAF complained that they had not received their goods.

Officers from FBR informed that rather Afghan authorities and ISAF have furnished in writing that they have received all their goods and nothing was found missing. Daroo Khan, President of Chaman Chamber of Commerce and Vice President of Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PAJCCI), endorsed the points raised by the KPK chamber but emphasised that the government should liaise with the CAREC secretariat for inclusion of Chaman in CAREC Corridor 5. On other issues, after the discussion, following recommendations / actions were unanimously taken by the Committee:

Liaison Committee: It was decided that the FBR would constitute and operationalize the Liaison Committee to implement the decision of third APTTCA meeting at the earliest under intimation to the Ministry of Commerce.

Foreign Exchange Facility at Border Crossing Points: The matter of foreign exchange facility will again be taken up with the State Bank of Pakistan and the National Bank of Pakistan by the Finance Division to facilitate exporters at both borders. It was decided that an internal meeting comprising of State Bank of Pakistan, National Bank of Pakistan, Finance Division, FBR, Ministry of Commerce and Banking Association will be convened by the Finance Division in order to ensure that not only the National Bank provides such facility but other private commercial banks would also be encouraged to set up foreign exchange desks, particularly at Chaman.

Amendment in APTTA 2010 a: It was decided that in case required, such amendments may also be considered in APTTCA meeting.

Amendment in Export Policy Order (EPO): Regarding amendment in EPO 2103, the matter would be referred to FBR to make it more facilitative by recommending modifications in the provisions of Article 7 of the EPO.

Operational issues regarding FBR:

Following decisions were taken pertaining to FBR:

-- The FBR will ensure the smooth transaction of containers both at ports and border crossing points;

-- Partial shipment has been allowed on case to case bases. It would further be facilitated.

-- Pending cases at the Directorate of Customs at Peshawar would be disposed off on a priority basis.

-- The general consensus about Jawaznama was to withdraw it. But officials form the FBR observed that its purpose was to ensure the genuineness of Afghan importers. However, they agreed to reconsider the matter.

-- The requirement of Afghan Customs Clearance Document (ACCD) may be done away with. The Ministry of Commerce would take up the issue with the FBR.

-- The FBR would take up the matter of the Standing Order issued by the Quetta Customs pertaining to stamping all good bound for Afghanistan.

Bonded Carrier / Port Charges:

Following decision were taken:

-- The practice of trackers' fee, which is charged for two trackers ie one installed on the Prime Mover (engine) and the second installed on containers needs to be checked / regulated. It was agreed that fee of the tracker on Prime Mover to be paid by the bonded carrier and not by the importers. The FBR would consider adopting regulatory measures, in terms of the licensing terms & conditions for the bonded carriers.

-- Regarding the different rates charged by the shipping lines / agent on commercial containers, it was decided that the issue will be taken up with the Ministry of Ports and Shipping for checking any discriminatory treatment vis-à-vis Afghan transit cargo in collaboration with the Federal Board of Revenue. The matters would be decided internally by the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, the Federal Board of Revenue and the Ministry of Commerce.

CAREC Corridor 5: The inclusion of Chaman in CAREC Corridor 5 will be taken up with ADB through the relevant channels.

Among the participants included: Fazal Abbas Maken, (Chairman), Additional Secretary-I, Ministry of Commerce, Islamabad, Omar Hameed, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Islamabad, Muhammad Tanveer Butt, Joint Secretary (Banking & Finance), Finance Division, Islamabad, S Fazl-e-Samad, Secretary (L&P) of the Federal Board of Revenue, Islamabad, Dr Naeem Khan, Director, Directorate of Transit Trade, Peshawar, Malik Kamran Azam Khan Rajar, Additional Collector, Collectorate of Customs, Peshawar, Daroo Khan, President, Chaman Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Quetta, and representative of Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Karachi, Zia ul Haq Sarhadi, Senior Vice President of KPK Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Peshawar, Farooq Ahmad, General Secretary of KPK Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Peshawar, and Yousaf Rasool, Section Officer (AP-II) in the Ministry of Commerce, Islamabad.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2014