Dawn News

NA body for curbing smuggling under ATT

ISLAMABAD, Aug 7: National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance has asked the Federal Board of Revenue to come up with a comprehensive plan for controlling under-invoicing and smuggling of goods under the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA).

Member Customs Riaz Khan gave a detailed briefing to the committee over implementation status of the new Afghan transit trade agreement and control of smuggling in the country.

Last year, the customs department had seized Rs5 billion worth smuggled goods across the country. However, the FBR has delegated powers to security forces which are operating in border areas, he said.

He further informed the committee that customs was no more responsible for cross-border smuggling of goods.

Mr Khan agreed with a committee proposal to prepare a comprehensive plan for controlling smuggling.

The committee recommended that Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh and representatives of the National Logistic Cell (NLC) should also give briefing to the committee on these issues.

MNA Bushra Gohar said that FBR could not address policy issues to check smuggling. She said it was the responsibility of the finance ministry to make effective policies.

Ms Gohar said customs officials will also have to identify issues relating to security and capacity while dealing with smuggling.

The committee held out an assurance that it would support customs in policy formulation.

The standing committee expressed concern over smuggling of plastic granules, and said that it shows apathy and inaction of the customs department.

Member customs acknowledged smuggling of granules and said that the Customs Department had last year seized 350,000 kgs of granules in Lahore. He, however, did not give exact figures or total volume of smuggling in the country.

Director General Evaluation Razia Sultana highlighted steps to check under-invoicing, including establishment of Directorate-General of Customs Valuation at Karachi, improving software, audit of customs clearance software, putting in place a fool-proof transit trade system, switching on to a single clearance software, creating a direct link with the UAE, China, India and other countries to prevent document switch, scanning of import licence.

Pakistan is obliged to allow transit of goods to Afghanistan under international conventions and to maintain friendly relations with the neighbouring country.

The new transit trade agreement with Afghanistan was signed on Jan 28, 2010 which was operationalised on June 12.

The member customs said that under this agreement some additional safeguards have been incorporated in the new transit agreement to secure safe transit of goods. These include submission of customs security; en route tracking and monitoring of cargos, exclusion of transit of arms and ammunition unless agreed upon.

He said that scanning, inspection and examination of transit consignments is being carried out at Karachi port which has led to fruitful results.


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