ISLAMABAD: The quantum of smuggled goods into the country decreased during the first 10 months of the current fiscal year from a year ago as data reported by the Pakistan Customs showed higher regular imports of these commodities.
Formal imports of six smuggling-prone items — green tea, black tea, tyres, textile products, electronic goods and palm oil — increased by over 49 per cent, the latest data showed. Moreover, a significant decline was seen in the smuggling of mobile phones, cars and petroleum products.
In Pakistan, illegal trade is quantified through fluctuations in imports of items under the Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) and an increasing trend in imports of those items in the comparable period.
Official data compiled by the Pakistan Customs showed that the import value of the six commodities jumped to Rs1,132.021 billion during July-April period of 2020-21 from Rs759.282bn last year.
According to the data, the duty and taxes collection from these commodities also grew 37.5pc to Rs284.212bn in 10MFY21 from Rs206.632bn last year.
Moreover, the import value of these products under the ATT declined 30pc to Rs288.371bn during the period under review from Rs394.402bn last year. This decline means effective border control measures and pragmatic strategy to curb the menace of smuggling.
It is the outcome of strict enforcement and border management in coordination with law enforcement agencies, according to Customs Department.
The large-scale manufacturing data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) for 9MFY21 showed production of most products except electronic goods failed to record positive growth indicating that the demand is being met through imports. Meanwhile, data on smuggling of auto parts is not available.
The import value of tyres reached Rs51.033bn in the 10MFY21 from Rs12.852bn over the last year, reflecting an increase of 297pc. In-transit import of tyres fell by 51.4pc to Rs21.249bn during the period under review as against Rs43.698bn over last year.
However, the formal imports of tea during the period under review also grew 15.7pc to Rs75.720bn as against Rs65.424bn last year. Under ATT, import of tea dipped by 66pc to Rs4.151bn as against Rs12.227bn.
The import of green tea under ATT dropped by 4.74pc in 10MFY21 to Rs11.580bn as against Rs12.157bn last year. The regular imports of green tea grew 34.42pc to Rs2.80bn as against Rs2.083bn over the last year.
However, the import of textile products through regular channels increased by 60.2pc to Rs593.831bn as against Rs370.523bn over the last year. Subsequently, imports of textile products under the ATT dropped by 17.5pc to Rs180bn as against Rs218.21bn over the last year.
The imports of electronic goods under the ATT declined by 39.62pc to Rs39.077bn in 10MFY21 as against Rs64.719bn over the last year. The regular imports of electronic goods posted growth of 13.37pc to Rs99.112bn as against Rs87.420bn over the last year.
Moreover, import of palm oil on a regular channel soared 40.06pc to Rs309.525bn during the period under review as against Rs220.980bn last year. The import of palm oil under Afghan transit declined by 25.5pc to Rs32.314bn as against Rs43.391bn over the corresponding period of last year.
According to Customs data during March a significant rise was observed in the import value of mineral oil and mineral fuel products including crude petroleum products, motor spirits, high-speed diesel etc. The import value of these products rose from Rs127bn in 9MFY20 to Rs205bn in 9MFY21, showed an increase of 61pc. It was on lower side in the previous eight months. Besides other factors, better controls over grey petroleum products, smuggling also contributes to this surge.
Similarly, quite remarkable growth has been noticed in the import of vehicles sector during last couple of months due to strong border controls and crackdown against smuggled vehicles. Alone in March their import value raised from Rs15bn to Rs46bn, showing an increase of 206pc.
Due to the documentation of cell phone import economy through implementation of Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS), a significant rise has been noticed in import quantum as well as import value of mobile phones.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2021