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ISLAMABAD: The federal government is likely to establish “Border Control Authority (BCA)” for provision of an integrated response/ unified command for anti-smuggling operations, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

The issue was recently discussed at a high level meeting presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and attended by top brass of Commerce Minister, Petroleum Division, Power Division, Finance Ministry and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

According to sources, Ministry of Commerce, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, was tasked to assess genuine requirements of trade quantum under Afghan transit and consider suitable amendments in Afghan Transit Trade agreement (ATTA) to help minimise the smuggling of essential items like fertilizer and sugar etc.

Anti-smuggling drive: Pull your socks up, PM tells LEAs, agencies

Recently a team of Commerce Ministry visited Kabul and held negotiations with Afghanistan. During the meeting Afghanistan side clarified that their custom tariffs are very low as compared to Pakistan; however, they are ready to review their condition of cash guarantee if Pakistan side also removes the condition of bank guarantee.

The Afghanistan side also requested Pakistan side to reconsider imposition of ban on certain ATT items and processing fee on other items. Pakistan side clarified that the restrictions on ATT can be negotiated with Afghanistan side if it agrees to address genuine concerns of Pakistan on misuse of ATT facility. Afghanistan side stated that they are ready to address concerns of Pakistan side.

FBR has been directed to establish a well-resourced department of law and prosecution in Customs for effective prosecution of smuggling offices.

Ministry of Interior, in consultation with the Law Division/ FBR, shall finalise the proposal for establishment of a Border Control Authority (BCA), for provision of an integrated response/ unified command for anti-smuggling operations.

The sources said the meeting was apprised that all the Departments/ Organisations are working on their own due to which there is lack of coordination to curb smuggling. The issue has also been discussed with the Iranian President who recently visited Pakistan.

FBR was directed to initiate disciplinary proceedings against customs officers/ officials on whom responsibility has been fixed by the Committee constituted by the Prime Minister. Prime Minister has already taken stern action against “tainted’ senior FBR officials and inquiries against others are also in progress. Some senior officials who were on deputation have also been repatriated.

The sources said, FBR has been directed to hire consultants for procurement/ deployment of advanced monitoring system for transit/ transhipment of cargo from port to inland stations/ border crossing points, leveraging latest technologies ensuring end-to-end integrity of cargo movement with zero responsibility of pilferage.

Ministry of Industries and Production, working closely with manufacturers/ provinces, shall ensure the supply of fertiliser at notified prices to the farmers by working out an efficient production/ distribution system.

It has also been decided to overhaul explosive control regime, with security audit of manufacturers/ dealers/ end users. A track and trace system is to be put in place for complete visibility of explosives till end use; and activation of district explosives committee with robust Terms of Reference (ToRs) and monitoring mechanism.

The sources said, Power Division has been directed to firm up a plan for off grid solutions including solarization of tube-wells in Balochistan in the upcoming budget for FY 2024-25 in consultation with Chief Minister, Balochistan and Minster for Commerce.

Power Division shall expedite action/ measures for outsourcing of power Distribution Companies (Discos) through management contracts for better management and efficiency in the energy sector. Plan has been shared with the Prime Minister Office (PMO).

De-politicization of Discos through new Boards comprising persons of established credentials and hiring of C-Suite position from private sector and recruitment and deployment of feeder monitors (retired NCOs) for high loss feeders. Members of Discos Boards have already started tendering resignations.

Power Division is tasked to seek immediate approval of PC-1 for smart meters on transformers with early installation timelines is in the final stage.

Power Division and provinces have been asked to finalize an incentive mechanism for recovery of electricity arrears above two years.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

Comments

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Arsalan May 01, 2024 06:11am
More effort is being given to only smuggling through Afghanistan. 1/3rd of our whole fuel which is being smuggled from Iran, when will they really put a stop on this.
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Realist May 01, 2024 07:03am
Every single suggestion contained in the above is an eye wash. Down to the last one. Now we need retired Non Commissioned Officers to check electricity theft. What a joke
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KU May 01, 2024 08:44am
While the world trade moves ahead with free trade agreements and charts routes through countries, we remain stuck on myopic deals. Another authority to police existing border authority is amazing.
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Ch K A Nye May 04, 2024 04:34pm
@KU, The more authorities there are, the more money there is to be made.
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