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March 8, 2018

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System introduced to ease clearance of containers at ports

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to improve Pakistan’s continuously deteriorating ranking in Cost of Doing Business done by the World Bank, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has introduced the National Single Window (NSW) software system one container at ports from existing $734 to almost half as well as slashing down clearance time significantly.

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This NSW System which is implemented at more than 70 countries all around the globe has been hired by Pakistan with US grants money as it will connect 44 ministries, departments and regulators within the country through online software and will also connect with regional states including China, Iran, Afghanistan and other countries in the phased manner in order to overcome menace of over invoicing at imports stage. Alone in case of China, Pakistan is facing loss of $4 to $6 billion on this account on annual basis.

The FBR’s Member Customs Zahid Kokhar stated that it will become operational by end of next year. The system will be implemented in different phases and whole NSW system will be fully implemented in five years from 2018 to 2023. He said that USAID provided money for getting this NSW system and it will be linked with Customs clearance system known as WeBoC.

The FBR in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) arranged two-day conference on the establishment of a National Single Window (NSW) for trade. The NSW will allow parties involved in trade and transport to file standardized information and documents at a single entry point for all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements.

The WB’s Country Director in Pakistan Patchamuthu Illangovan (Illango) said on the occasion that Pakistan possessed advantages because of its location where 3 billion people market exist, potential for increasing trade and possibility of using automation to improve its economy. “I urge the FBR to take advantage of this automation”, he added.

Minister of State for Finance, Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan said, “the National Single Window Initiative is one of the most critical reform efforts initiated in the trade-related public sector.” He added, “This system has the capacity to transform and modernize traditional way of doing business by introducing various trade-related processes and procedures in an automated, paperless environment leading to significant savings to Pakistan’s trade in terms of time and costs. This development will have a positive impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector regulatory bodies.”

Around the world, bureaucratic processes that burden traders deter business and discourage exports. A National Single Window will expedite the process of cross-border trade, enabling businesses to expand their operations and the government to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy.

While delivering remarks at the conference, acting USAID Mission Director Helen Pataki said “For Pakistan, boosting exports and enhancing the competitiveness of Pakistani industries is integral to overcoming the current trade imbalance. By making trade simpler, the National Single Window will unlock Pakistan’s economy.”

The development of the National Single Window for trade in Pakistan will be phased in over a span of four years. The National Single Window is only one component of USAID’s enduring efforts to support Pakistan’s economic growth by enabling private sector investment, promoting a vibrant agricultural sector, fostering a strong business enabling environment, and expanding trade opportunities.

This two day conference will develop roadmap for implementing this NSW software as so far the FBR has connected 11 different departments for clearance of containers such as quarantine and environmental protection agencies in order to simplify the procedures.

In order to implement this system as hassle free, Prime Minister Office will have to play a key role for binding all departments concerned to opt this system and integrate themselves without wasting anytime. Without having political backing, this system will never get implemented in our country, said one top official talking to The News on Wednesday.

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