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Wednesday June 19, 2024

FIA to be given more powers to stop smuggling

FIA has started a crackdown against US dollar smugglers and hoarders in different areas of the country

By Shakeel Anjum
September 09, 2023
Logo of the FIA. — FIA website
Logo of the FIA. — FIA website

ISLAMABAD: The caretaker government has decided to delegate extensive powers to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to prevent smuggling of US dollars, sugar, fertilizers and petroleum products, Interior Ministry sources said.

The decision of entrusting powers to the FIA was taken in a meeting chaired by caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti at the Interior Ministry on Friday. The ministry issued a notification on delegating extra authority to counter the smuggling.

The FIA has started a crackdown against US dollar smugglers and hoarders in different areas of the country.

The FIA will embark upon activities pertaining to the smuggling of sugar, fertilizers, petroleum products, US dollars and other foreign currencies. The investigation agency will be able to exercise its authority and take necessary measures at all entry and exit points of foreign currencies. Furthermore, FIA’s zonal directors have been instructed to report to the agency’s headquarters on a day-to-day basis through relevant channels.

An inspector-level officer belonging to FIA’s anti-money laundering directorate has been appointed as the focal person.

It is significant to mention that the caretaker government last month announced its decision to import one million metric tonnes of sugar at an inflated price of Rs220 per kilogramme to address the depleted stock of the commodity in the country.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) has linked the surge in sugar prices to unabated sugar smuggling to Afghanistan through Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Geo News reported.

In a separate development on Friday, the KP FIA arrested two suspects involved in the illegal exchange of money and currency business and recovered Rs131 million. The suspects, Sher Zaman and Mohammad Saleem, were arrested from Nowshera district. A case has been registered against the suspects under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act.

Earlier on Thursday, Dera Ismail Khan Region FIA announced the apprehension of five persons allegedly involved in illegal Hundi, Hawala business and recovered millions of rupees during various raids conducted over the last month. The FIA team had also recovered Rs950,000 amount and receipts of the Hundi, Hawala business from the accused, FIA Deputy Director Abdul Hai Babar said.

It may be noted that caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Tuesday issued directives to the authorities concerned to implement strict measures to curb smuggling at border crossings.

He stressed the need to encourage trade via legal channels and directed the customs officials to improve surveillance and establish a comprehensive monitoring mechanism at irregular border crossings to prevent smuggling in the country.

Our correspondent adds from Lahore: The Punjab government has provided the FIA with information regarding 13 sugar dealers suspected of inflating the price of the commodity and engaging in black market activities.

As per the report submitted by the outgoing provincial secretary of food to the provincial government, these dealers from the sugar mills acquired sugar at Rs90 per kilogram and sold it at prices ranging from Rs130 to Rs180 per kilogram.

In the meantime, the Punjab government is considering the possibility of contesting the stay order issued by the Lahore High Court, which prevents the fixation of sugar prices. Following the instructions of the caretaker Punjab chief minister, the Punjab advocate-general has prepared an appeal in which the sugar mill owners who had approached the high court have been made parties to the case.