FPCCI Highlights Malpractices in Pakistan Customs

FPCCI Highlights Malpractices in Pakistan Customs

Karachi, May 22, 2024 – The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) spotlighted widespread malpractices within Pakistan Customs on Wednesday, calling for comprehensive reforms to address the issue.

In an official statement, FPCCI President Atif Ikram Sheikh voiced the concerns of Pakistan’s business, industry, and trade community regarding the preventive and anti-smuggling functions of Pakistan Customs. Sheikh emphasized that reducing human interaction in the anti-smuggling operations could significantly improve the situation. He noted that anti-smuggling staff frequently halt consignments unnecessarily during their transit, citing the need for repeated inspections of containers and their contents.

Saquib Fayyaz Magoon, Senior Vice President of FPCCI, elaborated on these grievances, stating that customs personnel often stop consignments that have already been assessed and examined by the appraisement staff, despite these goods having their duties paid. Magoon asserted that such rechecks lack justification unless supported by concrete intelligence. He proposed that any such inspections should be conducted by a responsible officer of the Anti-Smuggling Organization (ASO), specifically of a rank not lower than an Assistant Collector.

Magoon further called for a thorough review and update of relevant laws and regulations, advocating for a clearer definition of the role of clearing agents. He assured that the FPCCI’s committee on customs enforcement would fully support these initiatives from the platform of the apex trade body.

Asif Sakhi, Vice President of FPCCI, highlighted another pressing issue, pointing out that First Information Reports (FIRs) filed by customs authorities often unjustly implicate clearing agents alongside importers. Sakhi clarified that the responsibility of clearing agents is limited to filing Goods Declarations (GDs) based on the import documents provided by importers, such as invoices, packing lists, and bills of lading. Consequently, clearing agents should not be held accountable for any violations or contraventions committed by the importer.

Arshad Jamal, Convener of FPCCI’s Central Standing Committee on Customs Enforcement, criticized the financial burden placed on importers when goods are stopped and subsequently cleared. He argued that if goods are detained based on erroneous information, the customs officials responsible should be held accountable for any additional costs incurred, such as container and vehicle rental fees.

In summary, the FPCCI has highlighted significant issues within Pakistan Customs, calling for minimized human intervention in anti-smuggling activities, clearer roles and responsibilities for clearing agents, and accountability for customs officials. The organization stands ready to support reforms aimed at improving the efficiency and fairness of customs operations in Pakistan.