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Project for computerised customs clearance at Karachi soon: Revenue Board

FAISALABAD (June 22 2003) : The Central Board of Revenue (CBR) is set to launch a pilot project for electronic assessment and computerisation of customs clearance at Karachi, said CBR Customs Member Zafar-ul-Majeed.

Addressing the members of the Faisalabad Dry Port Trust (FDPT) here on Saturday, he said the spadework for this project has already been completed to facilitate the imports particularly from the upcountry dry ports.

He, however, said this project will be experimented at a particular site of Karachi where 30 percent of imports are handled, adding the customs officials are bound to facilitate imports as well as exports, and in this connection, any bureaucratic hurdles would be removed on top priority basis.

About the complaints against discouraging imports at the risk of upcountry dry ports, he directed the customs officials to shun prejudice, and allow the free movement of import consignments to upcountry dry ports.

“They should not demand income tax payment certificate and other such documents”, he said, adding it is the duty of the staff of the upcountry dry port to complete the required formalities for the clearance of the import consignments.

About the pilot project for the fully computerised system, he said it would be implemented during October-November in Karachi, and on its successful completion, its scope will be expanded to the entire country after upgrading it and removing its technical lacunas.

Majeed said that 90 percent importers are honest and their record with customs department is neat and clean, adding the CBR was considering a proposal to exempt the consignments imported by these importers from detailed examination.

He said the CBR was also working to introduce an electronic assessment system.

In this connection, a training course is being launched for customs officers here from July, and this course will also be open for the clearing agents, he added.

FDPT Chairman Mukhtar Ahmed Sheikh said this upcountry port handled 25,000 containers worth Rs 40 billion last year, and it is expected that its turnover will touch the mark of Rs 45 billion this year.

He complained about unnecessary hurdles created at the Karachi port for the import consignments destined for the upcountry ports.

He also pin-pointed difference in customs valuation at Karachi as compared to the other upcountry ports, saying it should be streamlined to provide a level playing field to all ports without any discrimination of sea or upcountry ports.

About the FDPT, he said it is one of the best dry ports of the country fully dedicated to the exports.

However, due to the little imports, it has to suffer huge financial losses. About its tariff, the on-line tracking system for the vigilant surveillance of the export and import consignments.

He demanded more facilities to the major exporters and importers in respect of the re-stuffing of their goods at mills site, and demanded the facility of 24 hours custom clearance.

He said with this facility we could be able to increase our business up to 45 percent in addition to generating more revenue for the CBR.

Mukhtar Ahmed Sheikh said the FDPT has already invested Rs 10 million for the textile testing laboratory, and it was ready to inject additional funds if deemed necessary.

He said the FDPT has acquired six acres of land for the construction of an oil terminal while it has also taken over 10 schools in the vicinity of the dry port as its moral and social commitment to the community.

Mian Muhammad Latif, founding chairman of the FDPT, was critical of the negative propaganda unleashed by vested interests against the upcountry ports, saying no case of narcotics or theft was reported from the Faisalabad Port, but in spite of it, some elements have reservations against it.

Later, former FDPT chairman Chaudhry Mushtaq Ali Cheema, MNA, presented an insignia of FDPT to Zafar-ul-Majeed to mark his visit to FDPT.

FDPT Senior Vice Chairman Syed Fahim Mehmood Shah, Vice Chairman Malik Muhammad Anwar and Faisalabad Customs Collector Hafiz were also present on the occasion.

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