ISLAMABAD: Smuggling through the Afghan transit trade has been reduced significantly thanks to stricter monitoring at Chaman border stations, a senior Customs official told Dawn recently.
Data shows the number of containers carrying eight smuggle-prone items dropped 64 per cent year-on-year to 305 in the first half of the current financial year (i.e. July-December) from 852 a year earlier.
The number of containers in transit trade of textile fabric dropped to 27 in July-December 2016 as against 205 a year ago, reflecting a decline of 87pc. The number of containers carrying used electronics goods fell to seven from 22.
The number of imported containers carrying black tea fell to 72 from 170, of milk powder to 84 from 108, green tea to 59 from 93, engine oil to 10 from 18, and bicycles to four from 11 containers. No import of soap was made during the period.
On the other hand, smuggling of Pakistani goods like fertilisers, animals and edible oil to Afghanistan was also drastically reduced. Fertiliser was never imported legally by Afghanistan and the market was entirely dependent on smuggling from Pakistan.
For the first time, 575 containers of fertilisers were imported under the Afghan transit arrangement through the Chaman border, the data reveals.
In the first nine months (July to March) of the current fiscal year, the Customs collectorate of Quetta has seized smuggled goods worth Rs1.095 billion as against Rs1.532bn in the same period of the preceding year, a decline of 28.5pc.
The total revenue collected through auction of the smuggled goods dropped 14pc to Rs582.3m from Rs679.4m a year earlier.
In the 2015-16, the total value of smuggled goods seized was Rs2bn. Of this, more than Rs1bn was collected from disposal of seized goods.
Quetta has traditionally been a major market for used automobile parts which were primarily smuggled into Balochistan through the Afghan border.
A Customs official said legal imports of used auto-parts have begun in large quantities since last year through the collectorate, which was a strong indicator that the items have shifted to the legal import regime.
The net result of all these measures, according to the official, was the achievement of the tax target projected for the first seven months of the fiscal year (July-January).
The collection reached Rs8.116bn against the Federal Board of Revenue’s target of Rs7.355bn for all four federal taxes, i.e. customs duty, sales tax, federal excise duty and income tax.
A Customs official said the government has adopted various procedures to dispose of confiscated goods, including destroying of narcotics and expired, banned and hazardous items. For other goods, the reserve price is determined after adding taxes to the value before they are opened for public auction.
The government has also extended powers of the paramilitary forces to curb smuggling on the western border, he said.
Three new customs stations have been notified in Balochistan to facilitate legal trade and discourage smuggling via unfrequented and non-notified routes along the border.
All checkpoints on major routes leading to Quetta and other parts of the country have been re-enforced. New posts have been set up in Yaroo, Zhob, Rakhni and Darakhshan in Bolan to check the flow of contraband and smuggled goods from the province to other parts of the country.
Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2017