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WeBOC glitch hurts exports

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Pakistan Customs logo. - Taken from FCPPL website.
Pakistan Customs logo. - Taken from FCPPL website.

KARACHI: The exports of five zero-rated industries have been paralysed by a glitch in the auto clearance system Web Based Auto Clearance (WeBOC) of the Customs.

The system had not been accepting or loading export Goods Declarations (GDs) for over two months and as a result the entire supply chain of zero-rated export trade has been paralysed, exporters said on Wednesday Despite repeated efforts by exporters’ representative bodies and reminders to high-ups of customs and officials of Pakistan Revenue Automation Ltd (PRAL), which developed the WeBOC software, no response was received till the filing of this report.

The non-acceptance of GDs by WeBOC system at export stage is causing multiple problems for exporters who also could not file their sales tax returns for the last two months, they added.

Exporters lamented that the last date for filing of sales tax returns for the month of June 2013 was extended to July 29, 2013 but to date the error has not been removed by the PRAL.

As a result of this, they said a large number of exporters have been declared as non-filers of sales tax returns and their names have been included amongst “Non Active” in the Federal Board of Revenue’s web portal without any fault on their part.

After appearing as “Non Active” on the FBR’s web portal the credibility of a large number of exporters has been damaged and above all are now facing multiple problems including losing their entitlement to purchase raw material at reduced sales tax rate of 2 per cent instead of normal rate of 17pc.

The situation has become so critical for exporters that their entire supply chain has been badly disturbed and could not keep their production and export activity moving.

M. Jawed Bilwani chairman Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association (PHMA) said that exporters were suffering on many accounts because even their sales tax refund claims are being rejected by the FBR’s auto system of RMS due to “non active” status in the Web Portal.

Similarly, he said the customs authorities have stopped their import consignments of raw materials for application of higher rate of sales tax which otherwise have to be cleared at reduced rates. All the zero-rated exporters are also being asked by utility companies to pay 5 per cent extra sales tax due to non active status.

Mehtabuddin Chawala chairman Pakistan Towel Manufacturers Association (TMA) said that the FBR should have first test run the auto uploading of export and import data in the WeBOC system and only then asked the taxpayers to go through it.