Wednesday September 22, 2021

Pakistan Customs developing online single window

Improvement in ease of doing business

KARACHI: Pakistan Customs is developing an online National Single Window, which is a major stride towards ease of doing business in the country, Muhammad Zahid Khokhar, Member Customs told The News.

“The Prime Minister has approved the single window platform and assigned Pakistan Customs as lead agency,” the member said.

The World Bank in its report on ease of doing business pointed out that Pakistan ranked 174th in the 189 economies in “trading across the borders”.

The member Customs said the government is giving priority to reduce the cost of business and enhance industrial activities in the country.

Describing the significance of the project, he said: “Business related to trade and import or supply will be able to link with all related government departments with a single click to see their status of exemption and concession certificates.”

The entire system would be operational at the Customs in-house software – WeBOC, Khokhar said, adding, “For the purpose of large size data, the capacity of WeBOC will be enhanced.”

The project would be ready in a year and around 30 to 40 departments would be linked to this system in order to facilitate the trade and industry, the member Customs added.

Timeline would be defined for the departments to approve or disapprove any request for certificate issuance in order to ensure speedy clearance at the Customs stage, he said.

At present, Pakistan is far behind in ease of doing business in the world economies. The foreign investors gauged this indicator for investing in foreign countries.

“The delay time at the time of clearance is one of the major impediments for foreign investors in Pakistan,” the member said, adding that with the launch of this operation, the delay time, which was at present in days, would be reduced to a few minutes.

This software will also help reduce the chances of bogus and fake certificates, which were major reasons for revenue leakages.

Khokhar said that the plan will be submitted to the National Assembly for formal approval. Pakistan Customs had proposed a steering committee under the guidance of prime minister, he added.

Since all the government departments concerned would be linked with this project; therefore, the head of a steering committee should be such person, who could issue directives to these departments.

The member said that Pakistan Customs had completed all the work on its part. However, several other departments would require development of IT infrastructure to create linkage with the WeBOC system.