ISLAMABAD: The chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenues, Khawaja Sohail Mansoor, says there is a massive under-invoicing going on in the country as China is sending goods worth $12 billion to Pakistan but the FBR data is only showing imports of $4 billion.
FBR Member Customs Riaz Ahmed Khan told the Senate panel that the FBR staff faced threats in the Punjab if raids were conducted. “Due to our limited strength, the FBR is unable to raid the godowns of smuggled products as we can be beaten black and blue.”
When asked by the members of the committee to cite specific examples of its officials being beaten, the member Customs said that the FBR raided the premises of local businessmen in Lahore and some 40-50 armed people gathered in the office as a ‘protest.’
Khan also said that due to the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), incentives for smuggling have been reduced to half.According to him, the value of imports for Afghanistan under the agreement went down from Rs60 billion to just Rs28 billion during the last fiscal year, which helped regularise the imports besides boosting the customs revenues to Rs218 billion in the last fiscal year.
He said that licences had been issued to tracking companies and the movement of cargo was to be monitored by fixing tracking devices in containers as well as in carriers.Khan also said that smuggling can be eliminated through a change in policy, import tariff structure and enforcement measures. The Frontier Constabulary, he said, possessed the powers to check smuggling and the Customs staff is only responsible for clearing goods coming through legal means. “The smuggling margin up to 18 percent encourages smugglers to smuggle things and in case we are able to bring such margins to five percent or even below, it would be easy to tackle this issue,” he said.
Khawaja Sohail, Aftab Shaban Mirani, Rashid Godil and Kashmala Tariq expressed concern over the anti-smuggling arrangements on the borders and directed the FBR to prepare anti-smuggling plans for short and long-term periods, as well as better coordination among the anti-smuggling agencies such as the Customs, FC and others.