KHYBER: At least 15 tankers filled with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) still await customs clearance at the Torkham border after they arrived from Central Asian states via the land route of Afghanistan about three weeks ago.
A private company in Peshawar had signed an agreement to import around 60,000 tonnes of LPG from different Central Asian states a few months back for its onward sale and distribution in different cities of Pakistan.
Mujibullah Shinwari, a local customs agent tasked with clearing the consignment, told Dawn that four tankers, with about 30 tonnes of LPG each, had arrived on the other side of the Torkham border about three weeks back but were not allowed to cross over to Pakistan due to some issues in import documents.
He said the electronic import form (EIF) was a basic requirement for payment to the exporter of the consignment and later issuance of goods declaration (GD) form during customs clearance.
Mr Shinwari said the four tankers had no EIF and were thus refused GD form and subsequent customs clearance which caused the delay in the clearance process. “It is now expected that the four tankers would be cleared soon as the private import company has arranged the EIF on an emergency basis.”
He said he had all other required documents, except the EIF of the remaining 11 tankers which also arrived at Torkham.
Officials at Torkham said the private import firm, which has its own storage and distribution facility on the outskirts of Peshawar, had been advised to apply for an EIF waiver from the Ministry of Commerce in Islamabad to acquire the GD form for speedy clearance of the remaining 11 tankers from Torkhum customs.
They said the GD form could not be issued under the web-based one-customs system introduced for computerised customs clearance unless the EIF was not provided to them.
It was learnt that the private import company tried to strike a deal with the customs officials at Torkham for a ‘one-time’ waiver from EIF obligation, but could not succeed.
Mr Shinwari said the process of EIF waiver from the federal commerce ministry was very lengthy and it may take weeks to fulfil the requirement, thus causing monetary losses to both the local importer and its Afghan exporter.
He said the LPG consignment was initially transported to Uzbekistan by train and later shifted to Afghanistan in tankers via road.
It is worth mentioning that at least two tankers of LPG were imported from Central Asia last year, but the process was later halted due to some ‘technical’ issues in customs clearance.
Meanwhile, customs preventive staff at Torkham seized $10,000 from an Afghan national on Tuesday. They said the man, whose identity was not disclosed, was going back to Afghanistan when he was apprehended during routine checking of passengers.
Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2023