President Orders FBR to Apologize, Compensate for Mishandling of Imported Vehicles

President Orders FBR to Apologize, Compensate for Mishandling of Imported Vehicles

President Dr Arif Alvi has taken decisive action in response to the mishandling of imported vehicles by the Customs Department, directing the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to issue an apology and provide compensation to a citizen who faced significant financial losses.

The vehicles were wrongfully auctioned by Customs officials at a remarkably low price of approximately Rs 3 million, without any prior notice to the owner. Furthermore, the Customs Duty paid by the owner was mistakenly refunded to unauthorized clearing agents who subsequently absconded with the money.

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Responding to a representation filed by Iftikhar Ahmed Awan, the complainant, against the orders of the Wafaqi Mohtasib, President Alvi instructed the FBR to thoroughly examine all relevant receipts and documents, refunding the amount based on the assessed value of the vehicles. Additionally, the President mandated the FBR to reimburse the importers/owners for the duties and charges paid. He further emphasized that interest should be added to the payment, considering that the auction proceeds were retained by the exchequer.

The complainant, in his representation, highlighted that three vehicles had been legally imported from Japan for personal use by overseas Pakistanis. The freight charges for the vehicles had already been paid. However, the FBR failed to release the vehicles and proceeded to auction them off at an unreasonably low price of Rs 3,019,385. Frustrated by these actions, the complainant approached the Wafaqi Mohtasib, who subsequently directed the FBR to compensate the owners for the sale proceeds, after investigating the reason behind the significantly reduced amount.

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During the proceedings, it was revealed that after completing all necessary formalities, the ship carrying the vehicles had docked at a different terminal. The Customs Department, without informing the importer, hastily auctioned the vehicles. Additionally, the Customs Duty was erroneously refunded to unauthorized clearing agents, resulting in substantial financial losses for the importers/owners.

Representing the FBR, the official acknowledged the fault of the Customs personnel in mishandling the situation due to poor communication and systemic barriers. He explained that according to Customs Rules, goods not cleared within 15 days of their arrival at a Customs Station could be sold in an auction. The official further informed that disciplinary proceedings had been initiated against the officials involved in mishandling the matter, and they had been served a charge sheet as per the Mohtasib’s order. Furthermore, the licenses of the agents who absconded with the funds had been revoked.

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President Alvi unequivocally stated that the mishandling of the imported vehicles by the Customs Department was undeniable, establishing a clear case of maladministration. He noted that due to the negligence of officials, the importers/owners suffered significant financial losses and endured mental anguish. The President acknowledged that the financial loss was a result of negligence, lack of communication, and deviation from established Customs clearance protocols. Consequently, he concluded that the citizen had been wronged by the actions of Customs officials and not due to any fault of their own. Thus, the President accepted the representation and directed the FBR to refund the amount based on the assessed value, along with the duties/charges paid by the importers/owners, while adding interest to the payment.

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