ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Customs has failed to put an end to or control smuggling in Pakistan with importers bringing dozens of food items from neighboring countries without paying any taxes.
In this regard, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail had recently admitted the smuggling of imported items through green channels, stating that despite the fact that there was a ban on imports for over three months, one can easily find imported fish and meat in restaurants of Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore.
Sources said that importers have mentioned local addresses on packaging to deceive Customs authorities while shopkeepers were openly selling banned items Islamabad markets.
A senior Customs official told this scribe that such factories and products are licensed by the Punjab Food Authority (PFA). “The criminal elements keep trying to beat the system, while Customs keeps trying to catch them,” they added.
Sources said that former member Customs had barred the staff from installing check posts on roads due to which the Customs squad has been confined to offices whereas smugglers are roaming around freely and moving items as they please within the country.
“Instead of curtailing and confiscating smuggled items, Pakistani Customs officials are busy lobbying for retaining their current positions as a massive shuffling expected next week,” sources added.
Meanwhile, Customs officials said that they had caught a huge consignment of banned items declared as tyre scrap imported from UAE by Riz Green Industries and it was marked by the system in the yellow channel. However, it came under suspicion and was referred for detailed examination at the Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT).
Upon thorough examination, miscellaneous goods including artificial jewelry, furnishing fabric, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, auto parts, food supplements, cereals, cosmetics, DVRs and home electronics etc. were recovered from 9 of the 10 containers part of the consignment.
The assessed value of the recovered goods is estimated at PKR453 million including duty and taxes of around PKR400 million, an unprecedented detection by a clearance collectorate. An FIR has been lodged and one person has been arrested while further investigation is underway.
It is pertinent to mention here that FBR Chairman has already issued special instructions to the Customs Field Formations for stepping up vigilance at airports and land border stations to thwart any attempts of smuggling.