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March 26, 2020

Custom officials directed to ensure uninterrupted consignments’ clearance

Business

March 26, 2020

KARACHI: Customs authorities have directed officials to ensure an uninterrupted clearance of foreign trade consignments after the government decided to keep ports operational amid coronavirus lockdown, it emerged on Wednesday.

Chief Collector South (Enforcement), in a meeting with custom clearing agents, said the officials are performing their work in their respective jurisdictions through online system. But, the collector called for avoiding unnecessary interaction.

The agents said their representatives are allowed to approach the customs officers along with their identity cards for physical appearance in case of most important work. The Preventive Collectorate has already issued a detailed circular in this regard.

Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) said its members are performing their role and making all possible efforts for the redressal of grievances being faced by the foreign traders. KCAA delegation, headed by the association’s President Yahya Muhammad, also met Commissioner Karachi and discussed business transactions pertaining to clearance of import and export consignments during the lockdown period. The commissioner assured that all possible considerations would be extended to the customs agents.

“Law enforcement agencies are allowing custom agents to travel to their work-related destinations after they show their identity related to customs or ports,” the KCAA said in a statement.

Custom agents proposed the member customs to exercise the power under a section (224 of the Custom Act 1969) for extension of time limit and condone the fine/penalty for delay in late filing of goods declaration for up to 30 days instead of 10 days as a gesture to support and facilitate the trade.

“This would be near impossible for traders/custom agents to submit duty/taxes on time,” the KCAA said.

The association also requested the member customs (policy) of the Federal Board of Revenue and higher authorities of Pakistan Customs to issue necessary directions to the ports / terminals and shipping companies for the waiver of port demurrage and container rents for at least a month.

The meeting was told that second review of assessment of consignment would be entertained by the concerned assistant collector/deputy collector on telephone. KCAA advised the members to contact their respective officials over the telephone for the second review. The officials can, however, contact any office bearer of the KCAA to resolve the issues. Custom agents also proposed the tax officials to let them submit scanned copy of free trade agreement (FTA) certificate and online verification while filing the goods declarations on WeBoc (web-based one customs) to minimise physical visit to the Customs House. Currently, submission of hard copy of FTA certificate is mandatory.

KCAA said it is maintaining liaison with the shipping lines. Maersk Pakistan has already deputed their staff at the Port Qasim, whereas the other lines including Cosco Saeed, UMA and OOCL are also in coordination with the KCAA for submission of documents and issuance of delivery orders.

Clearing agents said they are making efforts regarding online payments at terminals and submission of all required documents electronically through email of customs agents. “In the upcoming days this facility will be implemented for the facilitation of our customs agent’s community,” KCAA said.