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KARACHI: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is contemplating the budget proposals of the All Pakistan Customs Agents Association (APCAA) for trade facilitation.

In a letter sent to the senior vice chairman APCAA, the budget wing of the FBR has confirmed that the board was contemplating the APCAA’s budget proposals for appropriate action. Talking to Business Recorder, Arshad Jamal, senior vice chairman APCAA said that the association had sent its budget proposals to the FBR. Now, the board’s budget wing was seeking APCAA’s assistance for appropriate action to ensure trade facilitation in the coming fiscal year.

He said that APCAA proposed a Directorate of Centralized Licensing Regulatory Authority to deal with all licensees’ related matters in FBR. All licensees have to be allowed to work under the same license code countrywide instead of different city codes, enabling them to maintain their records under one code. “Universities are interested and offering Associate Degrees and Diploma courses in a specific sector of “Customs Clearance Systems” with a syllabus notified by the education department or by the board.”

Therefore, the board has been suggested to insert a clause in section 92 of the Act and make a graduation degree from a recognized university mandatory to apply for a custom clearing agent license along with other eligibility criteria, including applicant must have valid CNIC from NADRA and have adequate knowledge to handle the Goods Declaration (GD) and other Online processes at PRAL, PACCS, or any other Customs Computerized Systems.

Besides, he/she must submit a stamp paper of Rs. 100 and attest it from Notary Public that any court of law did not give any conviction against the applicant.

Furthermore, Arshad said that the association also recommended the board to issue Unique ID to all custom agents, which should be acceptable countrywide instead of issuing different IDs to streamline the clearance records and materialize one Unique ID concept that would not only enable the FBR and its departments to monitor the working of customs agents through one ID but also help to constitute centralized licensing Directorate.

He said that the association, through its budget proposals, also offered the board to share the complete records of clearing agents with licensing authority, and APCAA could deny the entry of any clearing agents to the ports by blocking/deblocking their smart cards online on the directions of the authority.

The senior vice chairman said that the association also proposed the board not to mention the name of any custom agents in the FIR until or unless it had proved with evidence that he/she was involved in reference crime or if he/she was joining the investigation willingly and assisting customs authorities. Besides, no custom agent license may be blocked or suspended without show cause notice and an opportunity of hearing.

APCAA further recommended not allowing any customs agent to file any goods declaration or otherwise continue business with custom authority after suspension of its license, but the customs agents should be permitted to process all those documents filed on or before the date and time of his/her license suspension.

Moreover, Arshad said that they also urged the board that if the licensee failed to apply for the renewal of license in time, he/she might be allowed to apply for licensing authority with a solid reason. Then the authority has the discretion to allow application on merit or impose a penalty of Rs: 25000.

While appreciating FBR’s positive response, he said that the APCAA was keen to work with FBR to ensure trade facilitation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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