Despite paying technology upgrade and container scanner charges for around 18 years, no wide-scale upgrading has taken place in customs’ processes, say traders.
Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh expressed his dismay over paying the technology upgrade and container scanner charges since 2005 but no significant upgrading has taken place.
He called on the customs authorities to adopt 16-digit HS codes to cater to the diverse imports.
He was talking to a customs delegation, led by Wajid Ali, Chief Collector of Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) Appraisement (South), and included Tahir Qureshi, Collector West and Fayyaz Rasool Maken, Collector East.
Talking to The Express Tribune, SI Global CEO Noman Ahmed Said pointed out that digitalisation played an important role in economic growth as it provided access to increased information in a matter of seconds, saving time as well as cost.
Furthermore, the digitalisation provides personalised user experience and eliminates the middleman, removing any barrier to entry and making the process seamless and considerably less cumbersome, he added.
He said significant data was available and it could be used to determine trends and patterns in order to develop crucial insights.
“The advantages of digitalisation are plenty, and the first and foremost was the modern way of collecting information as well as ensuring its protection via encryption.”
“Not only digitalisation paves the way for a greener world with significantly less paper wastage, it also frees up storage and space,” Said stressed.
Moreover, the digitalisation will ensure proper record keeping and significant changes in the functioning of the business world, and the digitalisation of container scanners will greatly streamline the process of cargo handling, he maintained.
“There should be a roadmap so that anticipated challenges can be avoided in order to ensure smooth operations.”
Digitalisation is crucial for Pakistan to ease the administrative burden in order to allow officials to focus on higher-value activities while reducing the compliance burden on taxpayers.
FPCCI’s Irfan Iqbal Sheikh discussed with customs officials the issues and anomalies faced by the business community.
He pointed out that the lack of regulation for container terminals, misuse of erstwhile Fata and Pata exemptions, delay in refund processing, unfair demurrage charges, insufficient investment in digitalisation and container scanners, inadequate diversification of HS and PCT codes and irregular consultative process with the trading community’s stakeholders were the major impediments in the smooth customs operations.
He also demanded the formation of a regulatory authority for the container terminals to ensure a better working environment for the traders.
FPCCI office-bearers discussed the issue of delay in tax refunds as the pay orders were en cashed without informing the traders – a practice that blocked the working capital of businessmen.
They highlighted the lack of uniformity in the disposal of cases under different sections and the ever-increasing demurrage charges.
The delegation of customs officials promised that an online complaint mechanism would be launched at the Federation House to address all the issues, concerns and complaints of the business community pertaining to customs.
It would not only promote liaison between the customs department and the business community but would also expedite the complaint resolution process, they said.
Officials also informed the businessmen that Input/ Output Co-efficient Organisation (IOCO) has determined the quotas for the erstwhile Fata and Pata regions, hence, its misuse would be eliminated.
They also assured the businessmen that they would swiftly process the refunds to facilitate the traders.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2022.
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