Commercial importers to file goods declarations through clearing agents

ISLAMABAD (February 24 2008): The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has decided to abolish the condition of bachelor degree (BA) for customs agents to obtain license and drastically reduced licensing fee from Rs 500,000 to Rs 100,000 under the revised rules.

It has also been decided that the commercial importers would file goods declarations (GDs) through the clearing agents and 100 percent weight of consignments would be recorded at Karachi before the ship leaves Karachi.

The FBR and All Pakistan Customs Agents Association (APCAA) convened a meeting at the FBR House here on Saturday to discuss reservations of the customs agents regarding complexity of new rules.

The FBR side was headed by Secretary General Revenue Division M. Abdullah Yousuf and the association was represented by the APCAA Chairman Syed Shams Ahmed Burney along with Information Secretary of the association Mohammad Abdullah.

On the conclusion of meeting, APCAA General Secretary Arshad Jamal told Business Recorder that the board had taken futuristic approach and agreed to introduce comprehensive amendments in the new rules. A committee, comprising customs officials and representatives of the association, would revise the rules to be notified before budget.

The FBR Chairman has accepted a major demand of the association for abolition of the condition of BA degree for obtaining fresh license by the customs agent, but they have ample experience to tackle customs clearance issues and be well-versed with the rules and regulations.

He said that the registration of the agents would be done on proprietorship basis by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). The previous conditions of registration of directors would not be applicable in the revised rules.

It has also been agreed that the FBR will also maintain centralised data of the clearing agents at the board level. The FBR would issue fresh licenses in future instead of collectors of customs. The APCAA General Secretary said that the FBR had also agreed to issue license on all Pakistan basis against one time security deposit.

The validity of the license would remain for five years. In this regard, the FBR has also decided to renew the licenses after every five years and annual renewal condition has been abolished under the amended rules.

Moreover, there would be no more annual audit of the customs agents under the arrangement agreed between the two sides. The board has also agreed to re-define the rule 99(2) and evaluate code of conduct.

The meeting also discussed the issues pertaining to clearance from Pakistan Customs Computerised System (PACCS), bonded carriers and measures to streamline clearances made by the commercial importers. It was decided to amend the Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) rules. The board would take strict measures to check commercial imports at MCC, Karachi.

Sources quoted the FBR Chairman as saying that the customs agents should play their effective role in eliminating the menace of under-invoicing. It has been decided that the commercial importers would file goods declarations (GDs) through the clearing agents. The decision has been taken to check frauds in the commercial imports.

To check misdeclarations of imported consignments, it was agreed that 100 percent weight of consignments would be done at Karachi before leaving for dry port. For this purpose, all upcountry cargo would be subject to weight at exit points to ensure that there should be no difference in the weight of consignment for proper payment of duties and taxes. FBR member, Customs, Mahmood Alam, Customs chief Khalid Mahmood and other officials were also present.

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