GILGIT: The clearance of impor­ted consignments from China through the Khunjerab Pass has finally resumed at Sost dry port after remaining suspended for more than two months due to a row between senior customs officials.

According to official sources, Abdul Waheed Marwat has taken over the charge as new Gilgit-Baltistan customs collector recently, replacing Nisar Ahmed who was transferred from the area on Nov 29.

According to a press release issued by the GB Importers and Exporters Association, Mr Marwat visited the Sost dry port on Wednesday and held a meeting with representatives of the association as well as the GB Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The association said the new customs collector acknowledged the importance of border trade between China and Pakistan, especially for the economic uplift of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, and termed the dry port an economic engine of the region.

Mr Marwat listened to the problems being faced by traders, businessmen, stakeholders of the area associated with the border trade and assured them of their early resolution.

A customs committee was formed for smooth coordination and dispute resolution.

The committee will play the role of a bridge between the customs department and the trade association.

The customs collector also assured businessmen and traders that all stuck consignments would be cleared on a priority basis and as per the law to facilitate traders.

On their part, the traders and businessmen assured the customs authorities that they would abide by the customs laws and make sure goods declarations improved in terms of valuation rulings.

Both the customs authorities and representatives of the association agreed to ensure smooth operations at the Sost dry port as per law and rules.

Talking to reporters, GB Importers and Exporters Associ­ation president Iqbal Hussein said the livelihood of 50 per cent of GB population depended on the border trade between Pakistan and China.

He said the people affiliated with the trade, including labourers, transporters, hotels, shop owners, customs clearance agents and traders, were badly affected after the suspension of the border trade between Pakistan and China due to the Covid lockdown and other restrictions.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2022

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