Customs will check cargo weights to counter misdeclaration of imports

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KARACHI: Pakistan Customs on Tuesday directed terminal operators to ensure weight logging of all the import containers being handled at ports as a step to check mispricing that causes hefty losses to national exchequer, reported The News.

The Directorate of Risk Management of Pakistan Customs issued instructions to all terminal operators regarding mandatory recording of weight of all types of import containers.

Sources quoted in the report said previously containers’ terminals were bound to record weight of goods that were cleared under Afghan transit trade and transshipment. But, several incidents of misdeclaration by importers have been reported, especially those that were cleared under green channel. Various goods were allowed to be cleared on the basis of weight of goods.

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Zaidi has, on multiple occasions, said the government is seriously considering steps to check smuggling, under-invoicing and abuse of transit trade that increased around 44 percent to 93,732 containers in the last fiscal year of 2018/19.

A conservative estimate put under-invoicing at five billion dollars a year. Together with smuggling, the unfair trade practices lead to colossal losses of tax revenue.

Sources quoted in the report said Pakistan Customs improved monitoring of imported goods and directed all terminal operators to record weights of all containers at the gate-out stage. They added that terminal operators have been asked to provide weights at the time of gate-out and provide data to the customs authorities for re-checking the weight.

“The weight of all import containers should be recorded as this information is deemed vital for various risk management parameters,” the customs directorate said in a statement.

The directorate said the terminal operators and off-dock terminals were requested to ensure that no import container could proceed to gate-out clearance stage unless its weight is duly recorded and updated on Web-based One Customs.

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