WE have all heard reports from the FBR and Pakistan Customs authorities, telling us how they have reduced smuggling and tax frauds in Pakistan. But in reality, FBR has not managed to increase the tax base from 0.5 per cent in 65 years.
The Customs authorities are oblivious (or are deliberately ignoring) about the smuggling of goods from Pakistan and China. In Peshawar, the smugglers have got proper shops and offices located in various huge plazas located at Hayatabad on the Peshawar-Bara border, that are owned by famous smuggler families of Peshawar.
For example, in the past year, two new plazas were constructed in this region, which were quickly filled by smugglers of Chinese-made cloth. In the subsequent months, I saw how the market was filled with smuggled cloth. Then how everyday taxis, wagons, buses were filled with this cloth and how it was smuggled down the country through various established channels. While 10 feet down the road, the Pakistan Customs have established a vehicle checkpost.
I was also amazed to see how these shopkeepers started out with empty shops, and how after a year they all have filled shops and new cars parked outside their shops. Although I should be happy to see the success of my fellow Pakistanis, I feel it should not be at the expense of Pakistan. Especially when these latest rich smugglers spend their illegal income in promoting terrorism, as most finance the same charities that support anti-Pakistan forces in Bara.
Until the FBR and Customs start performing their duties sincerely and help stop the flow of money to these terrorist organizations, we in Pakistan will not be able to stop or control terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
Also, by stopping smuggled goods sale, Pakistan will be able to earn a lot of income from taxes on proper imported goods.
The Pakistan Customs can control smuggling by starting a crackdown on these smuggler shops/plazas and by also stopping the sale of smuggled goods in other shops located in all main cities of Peshawar.
The only reason these items are smuggled down the country is that they can easily be sold in shops around all the main cities of Pakistan.
The Customs and FBR authorities can use the model of the pharmaceutical distribution in Pakistan to control smuggling of all types of goods. In Pakistan, medicines are manufactured or imported only by registered manufacturers/importers. The medicines can be distributed only by licensed distributors and can be sold only by licensed chemists. There are ‘drug inspectors’ that make sure that licences are up to date and no illegal items are sold by the registered organisations.
In a similar way, consumer goods can be divided into a number of categories, that can be looked after specific FBR or Customs inspectors who make sure that the products are distributed and sold only by registered companies. With the data generated by the invoices and warranties of these companies, the officials will be able to control the sale of only tax and custom duty paid items in all the shops. Reducing the demand of the smuggled goods and bringing all imports under proper tax.
SHAHRYAR KHAN BASEER Peshawar