Pakistan Customs Vows Speedy Clearance for Businesses

Pakistan Customs Vows Speedy Clearance for Businesses

Karachi, July 8, 2024 – Pakistan Customs pledged to expedite customs clearance procedures during a meeting with representatives from the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Monday.

The assurance came from Mohsin Rafiq, Chief Collector of Customs Appraisement (South). He acknowledged the FPCCI’s emphasis on improving customs clearance benchmarks and expressed agreement on prioritizing the digitalization of the customs appraisement system to minimize human intervention.

Rafiq emphasized his commitment to addressing the concerns of the business community and clearing agents. He outlined plans to implement a world-class Management Information System (MIS) and address staffing shortages to improve efficiency and overall facilitation at customs checkpoints.

Asif Sakhi, Vice President of FPCCI, underscored the critical importance of fair and timely imposition of GST and income tax. He argued that these factors directly impact production, industrial processes, and the availability and cost of raw materials for businesses.

Sakhi further highlighted the financial burden placed on businesses due to delays at customs, resulting in exorbitant demurrage and detention charges levied by terminal operators and shipping companies. He emphasized the FPCCI’s desire for streamlined procedures rather than special concessions or waivers.

“We simply request our due and rightful facilitation during the customs clearance process,” Sakhi remarked. He advocated for a more hospitable and collaborative environment at Karachi’s Custom House, believing it would foster better relations and encourage compliance among traders.

Sakhi pointed out discrepancies in the implementation of the Web-Based One Customs system (WeBOC), originally intended for 24/7 operation. He attributed staffing shortages as a primary reason for the current limitations.

Aman Paracha, another FPCCI Vice President, proposed a collaborative approach where the business community could contribute by providing real-time pricing data to customs authorities at no cost. He expressed the FPCCI’s willingness to bridge the gap between stakeholders on both sides of the system.

Shabbir Mansha, a third FPCCI Vice President, raised concerns about the lack of updated regulations for wharfage or storage fees under section 203. He argued that the absence of clear guidelines leads to significant financial losses for importers facing discrepancies or delays. Additionally, Mansha called for the exclusion of clearing agents from FIRs (First Information Reports) registered in customs matters, as they primarily handle documentation on behalf of clients and are not directly involved in the import process.

Khurram Ijaz, an advisor on FBR affairs to the FPCCI President, advocated for stronger collaboration between clearing agents and customs. He urged authorities to avoid suspending licenses for minor issues and ensure due process before taking such actions. Ijaz also requested the appointment of a dedicated liaison officer at customs to address concerns raised by the FPCCI.

The meeting between Pakistan Customs and the FPCCI signifies a positive step towards streamlining customs clearance processes and fostering a more collaborative environment for businesses operating in Pakistan.