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The Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) has cautioned the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to immediately upgrade software and hardware of customs imports clearances on an emergency basis to avert any untoward incident of system failure of Web-Based One-Customs Clearance (WEBOC).

The AGP has given this clear warning of customs system failure to the FBR in the subject study report on 'Web-Based One-Customs Clearance system FBR for 2018-19.' "The FBR should test on regular basis for the determination of WEBOC resilience staff preparedness in view of emergency situation," the AGP recommended.

The AGP has regretted that lack of will of the Customs Department of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for strengthening the WEBOC- customs clearance system has resulted in use of expired software and hardware.

According to the subject study report on Web-Based One-Customs Clearance system FBR for 2018-19, the AGP said that there is a lack of will of the customs department for improving the WEBOC system by developing and upgrading all modules of customs functions and devising of business continuity plan. There is a need to introduce IS Auditing on regular basis, devise maintenance plan for installed hardware and effective internal control system, and motivate the concerned officials to adopt prudential approach.

The study report recommended the FBR to review existing service legal agreement with Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited (PRAL) and formulate clear terms and conditions incorporating performance indicators and monitoring mechanism so as to bring transparency and fairness in the customs service objectives.

As evident from audit observations, expired software and hardware are in use because no procurement has been made, though funds are available in Customs Pool Funds. It is recommended to immediately design a procurement plan on emergency basis and update all inventories in order to avert untoward incident to system failure. There exists no systemic mechanism to oversee operational and development activities of PRAL staff by the customs department. This management functions may be strengthened to ensure accountability framework.

The audit recommended conducting regular audit of Customs Pool Funds so that proper accountability mechanism as regards to collection and disbursement may be ensured.

The security audit may be conducted on regular basis so as to assess risks and vulnerabilities and develop controls in WEBOC system.

The standard techniques like Control Self-Assessment (CSA) is advised to be adopted in a bid to improve internal control framework at customs service, the AGP report added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019