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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has completely shut down the One Customs clearance system since April 2023 without operationalising the module of diplomatic bonded warehouses in the new system.

According to an order issued by the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) on Tuesday against the Customs authorities, the customs department is adversely impacting the running businesses instead of providing a business-friendly environment in accordance with the policy of the government.

Two months have been passed since the closure of One Customs however, no steps have been taken by the department for making the WeBOC module for diplomatic bonds, the FTO order said.

New procedure for clearance of export cargoes implemented

It is evident that it is a matter of premature closure of One Customs since April 3, 2023 without providing any alternate mechanism for filling of into and ex-bonding of diplomatic bonds Goods Declarations (GDs).

No concrete steps appear have been taken to resolve the issue of non-availability of clearance module and its development other than correspondence from the Director Reforms and Automation (R&A) in spite of repeated change request for introduction of module made by the Collectors of Customs (Enforcement) Karachi and Islamabad.

The FTO regretted that it is inferred that the responsibility of delay in development of the required module lies with the Director, Directorate of R&A Karachi, who instead of developing and rolling the module, got indulged in unnecessary correspondence with both the Collectors and the FBR, causing unnecessary hurdles and delay in making of required module, which is unjust, oppressive and discriminatory towards the diplomatic bonded warehouse importers, causing loss of millions of rupees.

The FTO maintained that instead of providing a business-friendly environment in accordance with the policy of the government, the department is adversely impacting the running businesses. This non-professional and incompetent attitude of the Director (R&A) falls within the ambit of maladministration.

The FTO has recommended the FBR to direct the Director (R&A) Karachi to develop and operationalise the required GD filing module for in-bonding and ex-bonding of consignments pertaining to the diplomatic bonded warehouses and duty free shops within 30 days.

The FTO has further recommended the FBR to direct the Director General (R&A) to ensure filing of GDs of pending consignments of the complainant and other diplomatic bonded warehouses immediately as a stop gap arrangement until the required module is operationalised.

The FTO has further recommended the FBR to direct the concerned Collector of Customs to issue delay and detention certificates and submit compliance report in 45 days.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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