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ISLAMABAD: A total of 0.55 million containers of importable goods/ commodities have reached Pakistan during the first six months (July-December) 2022-23 against 0.7 million containers during July-December (2022-23), reflecting a major reduction of 0.15 million containers.

The data and new customs reforms initiatives have been shared by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Member Customs (Operations) Mukarram Jah Ansari while talking to Business Recorder at the FBR House on Tuesday.

The FBR Member Customs (Operations) stated that the number of containers that arrived in Pakistan during the current fiscal year is very less as compared to the containers that came during the last fiscal year. This is a 20 percent reduction in the number of containers that arrived in Pakistan during the first six months of 2022-23 as compared to the same period of the previous fiscal year.

Keeping in view the current account deficit, the actual numbers reflect a declining trend in the number of containers reaching Pakistan during the current fiscal year.

The import value has declined by 19.7 percent during July-December (2022-23) and the number of containers declined by 20.1 percent during the period under review.

According to the latest assessment of the customs, 57 percent of the containers have been cleared through the “green channel” facility. The remaining 43 percent is divided between the yellow channel and the red channel. The improvement in the system would avoid misuse of the green channel facility. The low-risk containers should not be stopped for physical examination. Tools need to be continuously fine-tuned so that the legitimate cargo keeps moving through the green channel and risky cargo is selected for examination.

FBR allows cross-stuffing of transit cargoes

Ansari stated that the FBR is taking measures to considerably increase exports through export facilitation, technological changes and registration of 90 percent of the exporters under the Export Facilitation Scheme (EFS).

The FBR and the Ministry of Commerce would jointly approach the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) factories to register themselves with the completely automated EFS.

He said that the changes in the customs reforms must be driven by the private sector taking into account the feedback of the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). Tax authorities realised that until the interaction is not done with the private sector, the private sector-driven automation would not be possible. Under the policy, the senior customs officials have done extensive interaction with the FPCCI and leading sectors including textile and others.

He said that the FBR has taken the feedback of the APTMA on the Export Facilitation scheme. They have raised many issues relating to the automated system. With the consultative process with Director General Reform and Automation and Director Reforms Karachi, Collectors of Sialkot and Faisalabad, most of the issues have been resolved like the EFS module for the indirect exports. Similarly, the quota allowed to the exporters was not calculated in accordance with their requirements.

After changes, exporters are happier with the newer system. The APTMA has shown satisfaction with the demonstration given by the customs on the EFS issues. “The regulations can meaningfully facilitate when the technology is there”, he said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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