115 containers cleared without paying duties and taxes

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ISLAMABAD: As many 115 containers have allegedly been cleared from the Torkham Customs Station without payment of duties and taxes, Pakistan Today learned on Sunday.

Sources alleged that the Director General (DG) Customs Intelligence and Investigation had communicated with the acting chairperson of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) that 115 containers out of 355 were cleared from the Torkham Customs Station in December 2019 without filing of goods declaration (GD) and payment of duty and taxes.

Earlier, the Customs intelligence had revealed that 355 containers were cleared from the border with the alleged connivance of senior Customs officials, upon which Prime Minister had removed Member Customs Operations Jawad Agha and five Collectors from different stations.

Subsequently, Chief Collector Customs (North) Dr Asif Mahmood Jah following the instructions of the FBR chairman, conducted an inquiry into the DG Customs’ report, that revealed that around 240 out of 355 containers involving duties and taxes amounting to Rs130 million had been reconciled.

The report further established that the allegations of clearing all 355 containers without payment of duties and taxes were not based on facts as the customs staff didn’t allow entry of any Afghan registered vehicles, carrying road pass issued by the embassy of Pakistan, from Kabul at Ghulam Khan Customs Station.

Sources said the DG Customs Intelligence informed the FBR chairperson that the report of reconciliation of containers submitted by the Customs Appraisement was a cover-up and that the Customs I&I was defending its report.

The Customs Intelligence in recent months had seized dozens of trucks loaded with smuggled fruits and the same had been auctioned, sources said, adding that the Customs I&I had directed the MCC Appraisement Peshawar for making manual entries pertaining to the identified containers, while there was no record in the WeBOC system. Moreover, this exercise was initiated after the report prepared by the DG.

Sources said the role of the staff of the National Logistics Cell (NLC) and the Pakistan Revenue Automation (Pvt) Limited (PRAL) was also suspicious and needed to be investigated.

Senior Customs officers are of the view that the dispute between the Appraisement Peshawar and the Customs I&I is causing disgrace to the department and senior officers.

The report of this scandal prepared by the Customs I&I is not meant to target any officer as in fact it is in the larger national interest, they say.

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