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ISLAMABAD: The federal government is likely to suspend many Customs officials on the recommendation of the Transit Trade Inquiry Report.

Sources informed that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is expected to issue a notification in 1-2 days to suspend Customs staff and officials who were allegedly involved in the Transit Trade scam. An inquiry committee was constituted to investigate the rampant smuggling of Afghan transit trade goods, with a special focus on the abnormal increase in the volume of Afghan transit trade in the financial year 2022-23.

The prime minister had approved the recommendations of the inquiry committee in last month, and subsequently, the PM office directed the FBR to implement the recommendations of the committee.

The terms of reference (ToRs) of the Inquiry Committee included; (i) reasons for failure of FBR to monitor ATTA goods volume, and flag abrupt increase for appropriate redressal in a timely manner;(ii) historical trends of volume of goods imported through Pakistan under APTTA;(iii) reasons for steep rise in ATTA imports in fiscal year 2022-23, with enforcement/policy failures; (iv) estimation of volume of smuggling based on demand/supply analysis of smuggling prone items with particular focus on 2022-23; (v) inadequacies of current tracking system deployed by FBR to prevent dropping enroute; (vi) responsibility for reverse flow of ATT cargos from Afghanistan to Pakistan through customs border points and unfrequented routes; (vii) role of Pakistan Customs officials, border security forces and other government entities in weak enforcement leading to huge influx of smuggled goods; (viii) legal lacunas, if any, contributing to ineffective border interdiction; (ix) policy issues contributing to current magnitude of smuggling; (x) fixing responsibility for failure in regulation of ATT and prevention of large-scale smuggling leading to huge losses for the economy of the country; and (xi) way forward and suggestion for improvement of transit trade system, (policy response, tracking systems, effective enforcement) leading to maximum facilitation of legitimates transit trade while effectively interdicting illicit trade at borders.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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