Saturday July 13, 2024

90pc greenback being hoarded in country: FBR member

By Mehtab Haider
January 09, 2023
Representational image of a man counting dollar bills. — AFP/File
Representational image of a man counting dollar bills. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Member Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Mukarram Jah Ansari says the government is making efforts for signing the Electronic Data Integration (EDI) agreements with different Central Asian Republics (CARs), Russia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in order to curtail mis-invoicing and under-invoicing.

“The customs department has increased vigilance on the entry and exit points of the country — including airports — in order to curb currency smuggling, but it’s our assessment that the currency smuggling has just 10 percent share, while 90 percent is going on in the shape of hoarding of greenback,” Ansari said in an exclusive interview with The News in his office last week.

“It’s the responsibility of other regulators and law-enforcement agencies to take action against those involved in speculation and hoarding of the greenback. We have found that the US dollar is cheaper in the neighboring country; however, we have increased our vigilance in the bordering areas to curb terror financing,” he said.

“In a few instances, the FBR seized dollars and Saudi Riyals. Our assessment shows that there is only 10 percent smuggling, while 90 percent is hoarding of dollars is in the country,” Ansari said.

He dwelt upon various issues for bringing reforms into customs for improving the overall performance of the tax collection agency. He said Pakistan and China had signed an EDI agreement and both sides were exchanging trade data electronically.

After hectic efforts, he said, China agreed to extend the aggregate value of goods on a quarterly basis. Now discrepancy in the bilateral trade-related data has decreased significantly and is less than $3 billion, which a few years back possessed a difference of over $6 billion on per annum basis.

He said the customs department joined hands with the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) for conducting studies on mis-invoicing and smuggling with the mandate to come up with the exact levels. The result of the studies would be available by the end of the ongoing financial year 2022-23, he added.

He said the FBR would devise an action plan in order to curb mis-invoicing and smuggling. It’s relevant to narrate that the multi-billion dollars losses are estimated to harm the economy in the wake of under invoicing on an annual basis.

To another query about the EDI agreement, he said the government would move ahead with signing EDI agreements with Uzbekistan and other Central Asian Republics (CARs), Russia, North Africa and the UAE.

He said Pakistan Single Window and China Single Window would cooperate under the agreement. He said the manual One Customs would be closed down by March 2023 and WeBOC (Web-based One Customs) would be placed.

Ansari said the work on Pakistan Single Window (PSW) was underway, as 77 entities would be integrated for clearance of goods at entry and exit points in the country. The State Bank of Pakistan and commercial banks would integrate under the PSW soon.

The Member FBR said in order to control currency smuggling, they had developed an electronic application that would be launched within the ongoing month. This application, he said, will help declare currency through online application and then scanning will share the whole information with the Customs departments at airports. He said the Customs took a stern action against Kheppeas and over two dozen FIRs were registered and persons involved were also arrested to penalise those involved in currency smuggling. Ansari said he had instructed the collectorates to select 10 cases in each jurisdiction every month and offered them to settle the cases through the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee (ADRC). He said the mechanism for ensuring barter trade would be finalised, which would help promote regional trade in the context of Iran and other states.