KARACHI: Pakistan customs has haphazardly implemented the legal changes made through the Finance Bill, 2021 without formulating the rules, causing harassment and delays in consignments clearance at ports.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has constituted a committee to initiate deliberations with the trade and industry for formulating rules in accordance with the legal changes made through clause 28(a)(i) & clause 28(a)(ii) of the Finance Bill, 2021.
However, the representatives of Karachi, Lahore, Sialkot and Faisalabad chambers and customs associations during first zoom session conducted by the committee informed that the Pakistan customs had haphazardly implemented the legal changes made through the Finance Bill, 2021 without formulating the rules, causing harassment and delays in consignments clearance at ports. During online meeting, they rejected the implementation of the legal changes made through section 156 (I) of the Act, urging the authorities to revert the same.
They were of the view that the authorities should avert the implementation of the legal changes made through the Finance Bill, 2021 because the importers were not responsible and would not be penalized, if the manufacturers or exporters did not place invoice and packaging list in the consignments.
They informed that the implementation of the legal changes made through clause 28(a)(i) & clause 28(a)(ii) of the Finance Bill, 2021 had been suspended until the rules were finalized. However, the customs department has enforced the same without having the rules, causing harassment and delays in consignments clearance at ports, urging the committee members to look into the matter and issue necessary directions in this regard.
Meanwhile, Arshad Jamal, Chairman All Pakistan Customs Agents Association (APCAA) said that after the amendments made in section 25(a), the collectors had now been empowered to determine the values of the consignments that would make customs valuation department irrelevant in the whole customs clearance process.
He said that 90 percent of valuation rulings issued by the customs valuation department were based on market inquiries or influenced by the mafias that compelled the importers to do under invoicing to make their goods market competitive.
He said that the menace of under invoicing could only be eliminated, if the customs valuation department was dismantled and the goods would be cleared on transactional values.
“The purpose of section 156 is to assess the consignments on actual values but it could only be achieved if the consignments were cleared on transactional values,” he said.
For the purpose, the shipping lines, airlines or shipping agent, who are the licensee of Pakistan customs and handle the shipments on behalf of the importers, should be held responsible to ensure that the invoice/packing list is pasted on containers or LCL shipments because they do not load the shipment on the vessels without fulfilling the said requirements, Arshad said.
“The shipping agents, shipping lines and airlines should be penalized, if they failed to ensure the pasting of the invoice/packing list on containers or LCL shipments,” he said and added that if they were restricted to mention the invoice no, date, and value of invoice on the bill of lading and import manifest then there would be no need to make importers’ responsible in this regard.
Furthermore, chairman APCAA said that if the same was implemented, the customs department would be able to actual values by crosschecking the values mentioned in the import manifest and declared by the importers in goods declaration.
“In case of any discrepancy, the importer would be charged on actual values with penalty,” he said. Replying to a question, he said that there was no other way to control smuggling but to fix duty and taxes parallel to the smuggling cost.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021