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Business

July 8, 2017
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MCC Lahore revenue collection up 30pc, nullifies infrastructure surcharge impact

Business

July 8, 2017

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LAHORE: Lahore’s Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) has nullified the impact of additional taxation of 0.9 percent infrastructure surcharge by Punjab government on imports by facilitating importers and collecting 30 percent more revenue than last fiscal.

Businessmen from Punjab lodged strong protest last year when the Punjab government imposed the similar infrastructure surcharge that they already paid to the Sindh government before the goods were dispatched from Karachi/Port Qasim ports.

Most of them then started clearing their goods at Karachi instead of bringing them for clearance at various dry ports in Punjab. The custom revenues were likely to plunge as a result of this move.

MCC collector Muhammad Jamil Nasir assessed the situation to find out ways to lure back importers. He realised that by eliminating the contact of the customer with the custom staff through fair and transparent technology, some hidden costs could be eliminated.

Though he called it elimination of hassle, but in reality the aim was to eliminate or at least minimise the out of pocket charges that the customs clearing agents charged from all importers.

Jamil said Weboc system introduced by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has to a large extent reduced the workload of customs officials. He said under Weboc the most compliant importers were allowed to get their goods cleared through green channel without inspection.

However, Nasir added that those importers who have a history of violating import rules were subjected to scrutiny and passed through the red channel. He said new importers were cleared through yellow channel and were subjected to normal inspection. “If they remain compliant on three or more imports they graduate to the green channel. This way the compliant importers have minimum contact with the customs officials,” the collector said.

Another facilitation provided at all custom posts in Pakistan was that the evaluation department has fixed the import trade price of 70 percent of the imports coming to Pakistan for determination of customs duties. He said remaining 30 percent imports were subjected to evaluation.

“Thus, the bulk of the exports do not need interaction with the appraising staff for determination of duties,” he said, and added that it was in this regard he found that all imports with already determined ITP coming to Lahore were first cleared by the appraiser and then the file was sent to the principal upraiser.

He termed the second signature unnecessary, which could be used to pressurise the importer and was an unnecessary burden on the principal upraiser. The collector said he limited clearance of goods to the signature of the concerned evaluator if products imported already had fixed ITP.

Bulk of the items has fixed ITPs and it facilitated the importer. (The speed money or out of pocket expenses under this head were thus eliminate). He mentioned that the importers were complaining about the hassles in registering on the Weboc system, and that an investigation revealed some staff, posted at the registration office since long, was working manually.

“As the first step, the entire Weboc registration staff has to be replaced, right from the clerk to the constable, to remove inefficiency,” Nasir said, and added this was followed with reorganising with the help of technology similar to the one adopted by Nadra.

Weboc has put up the prerequisites at its office, and all importers who come with the necessary documents were entertained and immediately registered. “The applicant is asked in written to bring missing documents for immediate registration,” the collector said.

He said goods at Lahore Dry Port were cleared the same day if the importer had paid duty and goods pass through the gate without the hassle of pleasing any clerk or gate keeper. These measures he added have reduced the cost and time of the importers. He said it was due to these facilitations that the MCC Lahore collected Rs28.475 billion as customs duty in the fiscal year 2016-17 against collection of Rs23.493 billion during the fiscal year 2015-16. This increase in customs revenue was higher than the increase in yearly imports, he concluded.

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