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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has unearthed a scam of removal of non-duty paid goods in the garb of clearance of empty containers involving customs officials who failed to enforce laws/procedures for the movement of empty containers.

In an own motion investigation by the FTO, regarding proper clearance and manifestation of empty import containers, directions have been given to FBR to deploy automated clearance module for import clearance of such containers in order to avoid any possibility of misuse and clandestine removal of imported cargo in the garb of empty containers.

The investigation conducted by the Federal Tax Ombudsman has revealed that laws/procedures for the movement of empty containers were not being enforced in letter and spirit and there exists a possibility of removal of non-duty paid goods in the garb of clearance of empty containers.

During the course of proceedings, Collector of Customs (East) and (West) Karachi confirmed that a WeBOC module had been developed, which automatically tracks/updates, the time period of the stay of the empty containers before their respective export.

However, the said module could not be made fully operational due to some technical glitches, while the Collector (Enforcement) Customs House Karachi had reported that after taking feedback from all stakeholders, a Change Request Form (CRF) has been sent to DG Reforms and automation, while

extending, the time limit for electronic entry of containers through WeBOC to 30.06.2022.

WeBOC module for re-export of empty o containers could not be deployed despite lapse of considerable time which can give way to possible misuse/removal of imported cargo in the garb of empty container. This lapse to maladministration on the part of the FBR Tax Ombudsman further observed.

Being a glaring case of maladministration, Tax Ombudsman directed FBR to develop and deploy the WeBOC module for empty containers by the already extended deadline of 30.06.2022 so that a link is created to cross-match and to completely account for each and every relevant (IGM) Import General Manifest.

Directions have also been issued to the collector of customs (Enforcement), Karachi to ensure that necessary change is implemented by the given deadline.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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