ISLAMABAD: The customs authorities of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have agreed to further explore intelligence based information to strengthen mutual cooperation.
A five-member delegation of Saudi Customs Authority visited Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), to discuss various matters of mutual interest and assistance, a statement said on Tuesday.
The Saudi Customs delegation was headed by Muhammad AlNuaim, Deputy Governor of Security Affairs. Pakistani side was headed by Shabbar Raza Zaidi, Chairman, FBR.
Muhammad Javed Ghani, Member (Customs-Policy), Jawwad Uwais Agha (Member-Operations) and other senior officers of Pakistan customs also participated in the meeting.
Both sides shared their experiences in law enforcement domain and further explored avenues of future cooperation in following areas of mutual interest:
1. Exchange of Information, on real time basis, between both countries regarding values of goods originating from both countries;
2. Exchange of intelligence based information to effectively control illicit flow of currency;
3. Development of authorized economic cooperation program between both countries;
4. Profiling of advance passenger information;
5. Cooperation between Saudi Customs and Pakistani Customs in order to arrest the senders and recipients of drugs;
6. Exchange of post seizure and arrest investigations;
7. Designation of contact officers for mutual cooperation;
8. Capacity building for automation/harmonization of customs procedures.
It was underscored that the menace of narcotics, smuggling and under invoicing/over invoicing are the primary sources of illicit financial flows (IFFs) which is inherently a global phenomenon.
It was mutually agreed that no country can cope with these cross border challenges without ensuring international cooperation.
Therefore, there is a dire need for both brotherly countries to support each other by all possible means of cooperation through international forums as well as Customs to Customs Cooperation under Mutual Assistance Agreements.
AlNuaim expressed that the Saudi government give great value to its brotherly relations with the government of Pakistan.
He informed that the Saudi government has recently introduced new monetary limits on currency which so far are not well known to the visitors from Pakistan.
He requested to share this information by launching a public awareness campaign in this regard.
Javed Ghani, Member (Customs-Policy) ensured cooperation and informed that the control of currency smuggling is one of the prime priorities of present regime.
Therefore, declaration of currency has now been made mandatory and FBR has taken various legal and administrative actions to improve interdictory regime against currency smuggling.
Jawwad Uwais Agha gave brief details of the National Single Window (NSW) and told the delegates that this initiative provides a complete framework for intra agency cooperation in Pakistan.
The delegation was apprised that at national level, Risk Based Mitigation Secretary (RBMS) has been evolved after taking due input from all stake holder agencies including Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Anti Narcotics Force, Airport Security Force and Pakistan Customs.
Under RBMS, a totally new institutional apparatus has been setup with a dedicated Directorate, namely, Cross Border Currency Movement (CBMC) within the Directorate General of Customs Intelligence & Investigation to address the risks of cash smuggling.
This measure has turned out very successful as in FY 2018-2019 total 487 million rupees were seized under its intelligence sharing against 157 million rupees in the FY 2017-2018.
The Saudi delegation appreciated these efforts and showed keen interest in the project of National Single Window, National Targeting Centre and Advance Passenger Information Systems (APIS).
Both sides unanimously agreed that there exists huge scope for enhanced cooperation between both the countries which will help them to address a wide range of problems originating from currency smuggling, narcotics and mis-declarations.