Anti-smuggling measures in the offing

Published June 9, 2021
The government has recently introduced advance ruling for cross border movement of goods under the trade facilitation agreement. —AP/File
The government has recently introduced advance ruling for cross border movement of goods under the trade facilitation agreement. —AP/File

ISLAMABAD: The government has finalised a string of proposals to facilitate small enterprises and introduce stringent penalties to improve enforcement against smuggling and under-invoicing in the upcoming budget.

In a major move to launch a crackdown against smuggled goods, it has been proposed to introduce penalties which will be imposed on retailers who sell smuggled goods to consumers without documents of imported goods.

Official sources told Dawn that the penalties will help control sales of smuggled goods. The maximum penalty for retailers could include confiscation of the shop. This penalty will be made part of the Customs Act.

In the year 2019, the FBR field formations have already raided some big retailers in major cities across the country to check documents of imported goods. However, this enforcement drive was discontinued as it was not fully supported legally at that time.

The government is also finalising a proposal to make invoice mandatory for the clearance of imported cargo. The proposed penalty for the missing invoices will range from Rs100,000 to Rs1 million. It could also lead to suspension of the user ID.

As a result of this decision, importers will make arrangements with their foreign exporters to make sure that invoice and packing list are kept inside the containers of import. This will help to control the menace of under-invoicing.

It has been proposed to out rightly confiscate a vehicle in case used three times in transport of smuggled goods. Currently, the vehicle seized along with smuggled goods is released after payment of penalties. However, it has been proposed that such vehicles in case of seizure for three times could lead to its complete confiscation.

The government has recently introduced advance ruling for cross border movement of goods under the trade facilitation agreement. The ruling was allowed for one year. However, it has been proposed to increase its duration to three years in compliance with international standards.

As part of facilitation measures, it has been proposed to introduce the concept of common bonded warehouse, which will cater to the needs of small and medium entrepreneurs. Currently, public and private bonded warehouse facilities are available in the country.

One of the major facilitation will be that government will bound adjudication and final decision at ports, dry ports and airports within a period of 30 days. This will facilitate the traders and general public for disposal of their cases.

Moreover, it has also been proposed that licence holders will now be given full time of explanation to clear his/her position. As a result, the licences will no more be suspended unilaterally.

In the budget 2021-22, the government has also proposed several measures in Customs to facilitate exporters and importers.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2021

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