ISLAMABAD (October 05 2006): The Central Board of Revenue (CBR) has empowered the valuation officers, appraisers and auditors of Valuation Department and Post-Clearance Audit Department who would open and examine any package/consignment brought to the customs stations for import/export and take samples of goods for ascertaining their value.
The Board on Wednesday superseded SRO 917(I)/2004 through a notification issued to give maximum powers to the officials working under the Valuation and Post Clearance Audit (PCA) Departments. The notification has specified that the officials of the valuation department and the PCA would exercise powers of customs officials within their assigned areas of jurisdiction.
According to the SRO, the valuation officers, appraisers, principal appraisers, assistant director, deputy director, additional director and director-general of customs valuation have been empowered to operate under the Customs Act, 1969.
Through the notification, auditors, senior auditors, appraisers, principal appraisers, assistant director, deputy director, additional director, director and director general of Post Clearance Audit would exercise powers of customs officials as specified in the SRO.
The Director-General, director and additional director of the PCA have been empowered to frame cases of fraud against importers/exporters, who submit false/forged documents for clearance of goods. The powers also include access to private warehouses, obtaining search warrants from the magistrate and powers to arrest persons violating Customs Act, 1969. The senior officials of the PCA have been powered to punish persons who submit documents including those filed electronically, which are concocted, altered, mutilated, false, forged, tampered or counterfeit.
Similarly, they can also deal with persons who give fake information regarding description, quantity, quality, origin and value of goods; alter, mutilate or suppress any finding of the customs functionary.
In this connection, the DG, director and additional director of the PCA have been delegated powers of sections 25, 32, 32A and 195 of the Customs Act, 1969.
They would also be authorised to exercise powers of the Board or collector of customs. These officials may call for and examine records of any proceedings to check the legality of any decision or order passed by a subordinate officer and may pass such order as it is or as he may think fit.
According to the notification, the valuation officers, appraisers and principal appraisers of the Valuation Department and auditors, senior auditors of the PCA would exercise powers of section 25, 26, 48, 91 and section 92 of the Customs Act, 1969.
It encompasses powers to determine the customs value of goods including its 'Transaction Value' (section 25); obligation to produce documents and provide information (section 26); power to demand production of documents and ask questions (section 48); access to warehouse (section 91) and powers to direct importers/exporters to open and examine any goods or packages lodged in any warehouse (section 92).
The assistant directors, deputy directors and additional directors of both these organisations have been empowered to issue notice to produce record/documents for investigation; audit and recovery of dues under section 155, 155M of the Customs Act. It has empowered the officers to make copies of documents or records and direct the taxpayer to appear before them for answering all questions.
The notification has specified that the assistant directors, deputy directors and additional directors of these departments have the authority to conduct audit or examine record, books/documents and computers pertaining to transactions of the manual or electronic system in custody or control of the principals or agents.
The assistant directors and deputy directors and additional directors have been authorised access to the premises and records of the manufacturers. The officers may visit any business or manufacturing premises where any raw materials, components, assemblies or sub-assemblies etc, imported at a notified reduced rate of the duties and taxes are manufactured, processed or stored, and inspect the goods, stocks, documents or records, data and also take stock of the goods imported, manufactured, processed or stored, and the quantity thereof.
These officials would also exercise powers of cancellation of registration of registered user of the Customs Computerised System under section 155F of the Customs Act, 1969. The officials may take possession of and retain documents and records.
Only the additional directors and assistant directors/deputy directors would be empowered to recover government dues under section 202 of the Customs Act. These officials may deduct the unpaid amount or direct any other officer of Customs, Central Excise and Sales Tax to deduct such amount from any money owing to a person.
The designated officer shall have access to any private warehouse (section 91); Power to open, examine and weight the packages lodged in the warehouses (section 92); Powers to recover customs duty (section 202).
Following powers have been given to the assistant directors and deputy directors and additional directors of the PCA: Power to arrest. The authorised officer, who has reason to believe that person has committed an offence under the Customs Act, may arrest such person (section 161); Power to obtain search warrants from the magistrate (section 162); Power to search and arrest without warrant (Section 163); Power to examine persons (section 165); Power to summon persons to give evidence and produce documents (section 166).