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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Member Customs (Operations), Zeba Hai Azhar, has assured the documented steel sector of taking strict action against steel smugglers from Iran and Afghanistan.

She expressed these views in a meeting with a delegation of the Pakistan Association of Large Steel Producers (PALSP) who briefed the Member Customs Operations about the enormity of smuggling of steel from Iran, Afghanistan and its devastating consequences for the domestic steel industry.

The PASLP delegation asked member Customs that there is a need to take urgent measures to curb the smuggling of steel on a war footing as the menace is destroying the industry.

It was also discussed that unhindered smuggling of steel has wiped out the steel industry in Quetta as well as in other parts of Balochistan. While steel industry in the rest of the country was working at a small fraction of the capacity and leading players were declaring massive losses as non-tax paid smuggled steel was badly hurting the steel industry.

The market is flooded with non-tax-paid smuggled steel billets and rebars which is openly being sold in cities like Karachi and in the rest of the country. This may be mentioned that smuggling could create implications for the country as Iran and Pakistan does not have official banking channel and smuggling is done through illegal financial transactions that can create FATF-related implications for Pakistan.

Above all, the money generated through smuggling could be used for funding terrorist activities, creating further instability and problems for the country.

Member Customs Operation was very positive and assured the steel industry that every measure would be taken to curb the menace of smuggling. She directed his staff to get clarification from the concerned officials and directed them to submit a report on the complaint lodged by the PALSP. She also directed her team to take strict action against officials found involved in smuggling-related activities. The Member Customs expressed the resolve that concrete action against smuggling will be vividly felt within the next two-week time.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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