close
Thursday April 25, 2024

IMF urges Pakistan to take action against smuggling of petroleum products

Smuggling of petroleum products costs Pakistan Rs10 billion in customs levy alone each year

By Ashraf Malkham
September 19, 2023
A logo is seen outside the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund on June 30, 2015 in Washington, DC.— AFP
A logo is seen outside the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund on June 30, 2015 in Washington, DC.— AFP

ISLAMABAD: The International Monetary Fund (IMF), raising concerns over the rampant smuggling of petroleum products in the country, has urged Pakistan authorities to take stern measures to curb the smuggling menace.

According to official documents, the Washington-based lender sought a detailed report from the Ministry of Finance and the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) over measures taken against 143 million litres of petroleum products that are smuggled into the country each month.

The IMF demanded that Pakistani authorities take comprehensive steps to prevent the smuggling of petroleum products that are brought illegally into the country every month.

Furthermore, the international financial institution has also demanded an increase in the number of customs, intelligence and security officers in the border areas.

Each year, smuggling of petroleum products costs Pakistan Rs10 billion in customs alone levy, the documents read.

It is pertinent to know that the caretaker government has already launched a nationwide crackdown against smuggling activities.

On September 5, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar had directed customs officials to improve surveillance and establish a comprehensive monitoring mechanism at irregular border crossings to prevent smuggling in the country.

Subsequently, on the premier's directives, Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti on September 10 announced the government's decision to give prize money to those who provide information on smuggling activities.

Terrorists benefitting from petrol smuggling

Earlier this month, a report submitted to the Prime Minister's House (PMO) revealed that terrorists are using revenue generated from petrol smuggling as a key source of financing.

The report, incriminating politicians and government officials revealed that 2.8 billion litres of petrol is smuggled annually to Pakistan from Iran.

The petrol smuggling costs Rs60 billion to Pakistan each year, it added. "A total of 995 petrol pumps across the country are involved in the illegal sale of Iranian petrol. Around 90 government officials and 29 politicians are involved in the smuggling of petrol."

However, a startling revelation made by the report is that Pakistan State Oil's (PSO) vehicles are involved in the transportation of Iranian petrol.