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February 6, 2019

Government mulls Customs clearance exemptions


February 6, 2019

KARACHI: Government is considering exemption from customs clearance for certain manufacturers that are engaged in frequent cross-border trade, well-placed sources said.

The sources told The News that Pakistan Customs would soon to launch ‘the economic operator project’ for smooth clearance of imported and exported goods.

“We have already started work on the project and consultation with the relevant stakeholders,” a senior official said, confirming the development.

The official said an economic operator status will be awarded to a company that is engaged in manufacturing in Pakistan and in frequent exports or imports. “In order to provide facilitation to such economic operators, Pakistan Customs under the guidelines of the World Customs Organization is preparing comprehensive plan for smooth clearance,” the official added.

The official further said the economic operators would have facilities of clearance without examination and any check. “However, the entire system will be made transparent.”

An economic operator is required to provide all the details relevant to the business in order to avail the facility. The customs will seek details including nature of business, bank accounts, number of employees and particulars of foreign partners.

Trackers would be installed on vehicular consignments of an economic operator. Besides, identity of vehicle drivers would also be stored in the central system of Pakistan Customs.

The official said an economic operator would be able to directly receive goods from port to manufacturing outlet without hassle of customs procedures, after fulfilling the essential formalities. The official said the authorities have already discussed the project with textile companies that account for more than 60 percent of the country’s $24 billion annual exports as well as multinational companies.

Officials said majority of the companies showed interest to avail the facility. The economic operator program has already been given legal cover through Finance Act 2018. It is aimed at providing facilitations related to uninterrupted, secure and transparent supply chains of imported and exported goods through simplified procedures. The program will ensure fast cargo clearance with speedy green channel and high level of facilitation in import and export consignments. The economic operator will have facility of direct port delivery and entry.

The customs will issue access cards to economic operators for hassle-free entry to Custom Houses, terminals, off-dock terminals and dry ports. It will also ensure speedy completion of cases/investigation within six to nine months and it will also reduce the quantum of required bank guarantee by 50 percent.

One of the biggest advantages to economic operators will be single-point assistance through designated officers who would address legitimate concerns of industrial units.

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