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Pakistan goods declaration at sea and air ports brought at par with world standard

KARACHI (April 15 2003) : Pakistan Goods Declaration (PGD) at sea and air ports has been brought at par with the international standard reducing the cost of transaction and logistics with the purpose to facilitate the entire trade and industry in the country.

This was stated by Chairman of Pakistan Shippers Council A. Rasheed Janmohammad while talking to Business Recorder on Monday.

The new system, he said, has been brought in force following a study of the World Bank which evaluated the logistics cost of international trade of Pakistan which revealed that in case of certain commodities the transaction and logistics cost amounted as much as 15 percent of the cost of the commodity.

He said these costs are created by the delays due to cumbersome and outdated procedures, which resulted in blockage of capital and the expenses involved in transaction of documents through such procedures.

Internationally the transactions and logistics costs are in the range of 5 percent.

Thus, Rasheed said that increased cost in Pakistan made our exports incompetitive in the international market.

To achieve the purpose, Pakistan Shippers Council, he said, joined hands with the Ministry of Commerce information of the National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committee.

The NITFC is a standing committee of the Ministry of Commerce chaired by the Secretary Commerce with representatives of various ministries, public sector organisations and private trade bodies dealing with international trade and transport as its members.

One of the important objectives of NTTFC, he said, is to simplify the documents and procedures relating to international trade and harmonise these with the international practices.

To achieve this objective the Ministry of Commerce obtained the technical assistance of UNCTAD who have been playing a leading role along with other international bodies towards this end.

All international trade involves crossing of goods across international borders. Therefore, the procedures used by the Customs for clearing these goods have a crucial role in expediting the movement of goods.

Over the last many years Pakistan has been using many documents of different shapes and sizes like Bill of Entry, Shipping Bill, Transit Permit etc for clearance of goods by Customs.

Internationally only one document, generally known as Single Administrative Document (SAD) is used for all types of Customs declarations.

Pakistan, being a signatory to the international Convention on Simplification and Harmonisation of Customs Procedures, is also obliged to bring its cargo clearance documents in line with the international practices to enable smooth transfer of all international trade data.

Over the last year, Rasheed said, NTTFC and the technical team of UNCTAD were working closely with Pakistan Customs, Pakistan Revenue Administration Ltd (PRAL) and the private sector bodies to simplify the documents used for Customs declaration of exports, imports and trans-shipment of goods.

The Pakistan Shippers Council Chairman said, this joint effort has resulted in production of Pakistan Goods Declaration (PGD), which is based on United Nations Layout Key prescribing a standard layout for all the international trade documents and is equivalent of SAD used internationally.

The PGD, based on standard A4 size paper, makes it possible for the traders to make their declaration through computer.

To assist the traders in producing the computerised document PRAL has developed software, which is being supplied to the clearing agents free of cost.

The PGD makes use of codes for various entries.

The software, he said, is very user friendly and the codes can easily be entered through the fall down menus.

Training is being provided at the Directorate of Training (Customs, Excise and Sales Tax) to the Customs officials and the clearing agents in proper use of the new document and the software.

Although initially hard copies of the documents will need to be submitted, it is intended that eventually the PRAL would develop the system to enable the traders submit their documents through the Internet. Hard copies will, however, be required till the Electronic Transactions Ordinance 2002 comes in force, he added.

The PGD was launched at Port Qasim Collectorate of Customs as a pilot project for imports.

After successful implementation of the pilot project for imports at the Port Qasim the use of the PGD has been extended to Export Collectorate and has now been successfully implemented at Karachi Port, Karachi Airport and Port Qasim.

Rasheed said, the improvements in PGD found necessary during the pilot project have been introduced in the PGD as well as the software.

It will be introduced in Appraisement Collectorate of Customs on 1st May 2003 in a phased programme.

Arrangements are also being made for PGD to be introduced at Lahore, Sialkot and Faisalabad dry ports soon.

It is intended to introduce PGD in all Customs Stations of the country before the end of 2003.

He said, introduction of PGD will speed up processing of documents and thereby reduce the time taken in clearance of cargo.

It will also enable correct recording of all the trade transaction for development of national trade data base that would be available to all concerned organisations for expediting their business process.

It will also harmonise the Customs clearance process in Pakistan with international practices, he added.

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