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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to ensure systemic improvements in the WeBOC customs clearance system to enable the Assessing Collectorates of Customs to monitor the progress of provisional assessments on regular basis.

The Tax Ombudsman, while disposing of a complaint related to the non-finalization of the provisional assessment within the prescribed time under section 81 of the Customs Act, has directed the FBR to ensure systemic improvements in the WeBOC so as to enable the Assessing Collectorates of Customs to monitor the progress of the provisional assessments on a regular basis.

Brief facts of the case are that the complainant (M/s AM Corporation) imported eight consignments of tyres and tubes and filed Goods Declarations during the period December 2020 to February 2021 which were provisionally assessed under section 81 (1) of the Act as the complainant’s request for revision of valuation ruling was pending with Director General (Valuation) Custom House, Karachi.

As per details, the provisional assessment was supposed to be finalized within the time frame prescribed (six months) which had not been done despite a lapse of more than two years in similar cases.

The FTO sought secretary Revenue Division for comments, the Collector of Customs, MCC Karachi informed that the request for revision of valuation ruling was pending with the Director General (valuation),as no response was received. It was also further informed that once the goods are provisionally assessed by the appropriate officer, the goods declaration on WEBOC window is transferred to the Directorate of Valuation for necessary action without leaving any trace or link for the assessing officer to monitor progress.

Thus, it was evident that the Directorate failed to respond to the complainant’s request for the revision of the valuation ruling despite, a lapse of almost two years and had returned GDs to the collectorate without any advice for the final determination of value.

The FTO observed that 280 cases of provisional assessment including those under the instant complaint remained unattended and were returned back to the Collectorate without any input/advice despite the fact that a substantial amount of revenue was involved in these cases.

The FTO’s order also recommended that the Director Reforms and Automation should address this shortcoming in the WeBOC system and fix the same on priority. The Collectorate should immediately develop a Change Request Form (CRF) and sent the same to the director, Reforms and Automation for systemic Updation enabling the assessing Collectorate to monitor the progress on a regular basis.

The Tax Ombudsman has further directed the FBR to fix responsibility on delinquent officials who had failed to discharge their responsibility in accordance with law and could not finalise the provisional assessment resulting in the blockage of a substantial amount of government revenue.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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