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KARACHI: President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Shariq Vohra has stressed that the Customs Department has to seriously focus on improving its efficiency and expedite procedures because the delays in clearance of goods often raises the cost of doing business and intensifies hardships for the business community.

“The business community has high expectations from Customs Department but the delivery by this important department has not been as per expectations. This mismatch between expectations and delivery should not be there and it has to be effectively dealt,” Shariq Vohra added while exchanging views with a delegation of Senior Collectors of 31st Mid-Career Management Course from Directorate General of Training & Research (Customs) who were led by Additional Director Junaid Usman Akram during their visit to Karachi Chamber.

Shariq Vohra was of the opinion that the Customs Department has to improve its efficiency as per international standards and must stay abreast with global changes and technological advancements as staying confined to traditional and obsolete practices for clearance of goods would never yield positive results in terms of expediting procedures for clearance of goods.

“Although Customs Department is a tax collector but it has to be a facilitator as well”, he added.

He was of the opinion that free dwell time of five days usually expires because of slow pace of Customs Department that causes severe losses to the business community on account of demurrage and detention charges on a daily basis which not only makes the imported goods uncompetitive in the local markets but also affects the exports.

“At times, many consignments carrying essential raw material for export-oriented industries are also held up by Customs authorities for long which raises the cost of raw material and eventually increases the cost of exportable goods. This is a very serious issue which requires special attention as it makes many Pakistani products uncompetitive in the international markets,” he explained.

Additional Director Directorate General of Training & Research Junaid Usman Akram said that it was very important to hold frequent interactions between Customs Officials and the business community as such interactions were a perfect source for having access to first-hand knowledge which helps in better understanding the issues and accordingly devising strategies for creating an enabling business environment.

He said that the Customs Department, despite limited human resource, was sincerely working to facilitate the business community even in extraordinary situations.

“Despite the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown last year when employees of most of the organizations starting working from homes, the Customs Department remained fully operational and not a single day leave was taken by any official that clearly shows the sheer commitment and dedication of the entire department,” he added.

Senior Vice President KCCI Saqib Goodluck briefed the delegation about the overall operations of Karachi Chamber and how effectively it has been raising voice for resolving issues being faced by the business and industrial community, besides giving the valuable budget proposals which were compiled after consultation with all the stakeholders including all industrial town associations and sector-specific trade bodies.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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