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LAHORE: A consultant of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has visited the Wagah border to inspect the site for setting up state-of-the-art trade facilitation centre under the Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) in line with the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Regional Improving Border Service Project, sources said.

The ITTMS is being executed under Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation-Regional Improving Border Services (CAREC-RIBS). The project would help upgrade the infrastructure at border crossing points, in the context of CAREC Corridor for Trade, to support a modern supply chain.

The Board’s consultant had visited the border last weekend to inspect 500 Kanal for the purpose, they added. Senior officials from the Collectorate of Customs took the consultant to the border for inspection of land. The relevant staff was also carrying maps of the land on the occasion.

The project was approved by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) in September 2015. The project envisages the establishment of state-of-the-art facilities at Wagah, Torkham and Chaman border crossing points, official sources said, adding that once completed, it would significantly reduce the processing time at crossing points.

The sources said National Logistic Cell (NLC) was interested to carry out the project independently but the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has disagreed with the idea and instead preferred to build it up as a private entity.

It may be noted that the government had released an amount of Rs76 million for the development of an Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) back in 2019. The project is of great strategic importance both in terms of security and trade. The government had earmarked Rs480 million for the project under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the fiscal year 2019-20, with foreign assistance of Rs100 million. The total cost of the ITTMS project has been estimated over Rs30 billion, which includes a foreign exchange component of Rs26.04 billion.

The sources said the unique geostrategic position of Pakistan has made it the most preferred corridor for trade in South and Central Asia. The project includes the development of one-window ICT-based systems and procedures. The cargo movement from and to Karachi going upcountry for internal consumption within the country or for transit movement destined to exit from Chaman, Torkham and Wagah would be processed and routed through an integrated system to reduce dwell time for cargo clearance and onward dispatch.

The Sources said the project would also ensure a proper exit of outbound cargo, a check on the backward flow of goods, decrease in the incidences of smuggling for keeping, pave way for one-window operations at country and regional level as well as for the introduction of Authorized Economic Operators.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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