Deteriorating reputation of customs department.

(Fawad Ali Shah, )

The current government in its resolve to steer the nation towards economic viability and development on the basis of domestic revenue resources and debt servicing has set a target of Rs. 5500 billion for the Federal Board of Revenue in the current financial year. It is a herculean task for the FBR to achieve due to the inaction of the government against the rampant corruption, incompetency of the bureaucracy within FBR on one hand and on the other hand the government`s failure to listen to the genuine demands of the FBR officers. An attempt is made to find the reasons requiring immediate rectifications / interventions in customs department due to which FBR is likely to miss its revenue target for the year in the following paragraphs.

• Under invoicing:
It can be defined as the act or practice of stating the price of a good on an invoice as being less than the price actually paid. Under invoicing occurs if the importer and/or exporter wish to reduce a tariff or if a buyer and/or seller wish to reduce their apparent profits so as to pay less in taxes. One of the reasons of Pakistan`s negative trade balance is the under invoicing of exports under which the exporter in abetment with the officials of the customs department declare less value of exports enabling the exporter to park the surplus undeclared profit in offshore. This transaction is rarely unearthed due to the negligence of the commercial councilors posted in the diplomatic corps. Thus the nexus between the exporter and the customs officials with the negligence of the diplomatic corps deprive the state of Pakistan of the much needed foreign exchange realized against exports. The revenue target of Rs. 5500 billion for the Federal Board of revenue during the current financial year would remain a myth if this aspect of taxation remain ignored.

• Under valuation:
The appraisement collectorates in connivance with the importers tend to under value the goods imported by commercial importers for collecting duties and taxes lower than due on the goods imported. The same goods are sold in the market at very high rates without value addition. Needless to mention that the appraiser would not be rendering these privileged services to the importer without any consideration. The revenue target of Rs. 5500 billion for the Federal Board of revenue during the current financial year would remain a myth if this aspect of taxation remain ignored.

• Under declaration:
The appraisement collectorate under the Weboc and Onecustoms system are found involved in the under declaration of goods imported by an industrial undertaking enabling them to avoid taxes due at the import stage and suppress production. This nexus between the importer industrial undertaking and the appraisement is doing double jeopardy to taxation. The revenue target of Rs. 5500 billion for the Federal Board of revenue during the current financial year would remain a myth if this aspect of taxation remain ignored.

• Bonded Warehouses:
A bonded warehouse is a building or other secured area in which imported dutiable merchandise may be stored or undergo manufacturing operations without payment of duty for up to 5 years from the date of importation. The officials of the customs department in connivance with the manufacturers release huge quantities of imported raw material stored in bonded warehouses. This is shown as either wastage or is kept in the stocks in trade in the balance sheet of the audited accounts of the manufacturer. The revenue target of Rs. 5500 billion for the Federal Board of revenue during the current financial year would remain a myth if this aspect of taxation remain ignored.

• Misuse of Afghan Transit Trade:
Pakistan has given transit facility to the imports and exports of land locked Afghanistan. The goods in transit to Afghanistan are routed through Pakistan without payment of duties and taxes. The goods in transit under the afghan transit trade agreement in abetment with the officials of the customs department are released to the markets in Pakistan without payment of duties and taxes. The shops in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Peshawar are full of goods imported under the Afghan transit agreement depriving the country of the revenue due in addition to flourishing the informal economy. The revenue target of Rs. 5500 billion for the Federal Board of revenue during the current financial year would remain a myth if this aspect of taxation remain ignored.

• Misuse of Green Channel:
Green channel is a route followed by passengers at an airport who have no dutiable goods to declare. This facility is being misused by persons in connivance with the officials of the customs department depriving the state of the duties and taxes due on the imports. According to customs intelligence report the goods imported under this facility were different than their declaration in the import GDs. The revenue target of Rs. 5500 billion for the Federal Board of revenue during the current financial year would remain a myth if this aspect of taxation remain ignored.

• Import of vehicles:
The government has permitted import of vehicles under personal baggage, Gift scheme and transfer of residence scheme for Pakistani nationals living abroad including dual nationals. The car dealers in connivance with the officials of the customs department misuse this facility by importing cars through the passports of overseas labor hardly earn to meet their both ends meet. The passport for the purpose of import is obtained on fifteen thousand rupees and the amount for the purchase of car is remitted to Dubai through Hundi. The revenue target of Rs. 5500 billion for the Federal Board of revenue during the current financial year would remain a myth if this aspect of taxation remain ignored.

• Auctions:
It is defined as a public sale in which goods or property are sold to the highest bidder. The customs department is mandated to take cognizance of the movement of non-duty paid goods and confiscate them. The bidders in the auction of such goods is a ring which works in connivance with the officials of the customs department purchasing goods confiscated at nominal prices and ensuring that no genuine buyer appear in the bidding process. The revenue target of Rs. 5500 billion for the Federal Board of revenue during the current financial year would remain a myth if this aspect of taxation remain ignored.

In a nutshell, the assigned budgetary target can be surpassed for the current financial year if the government repair the dents and damages to the revenue inflicted by the officials of the Federal Board of Revenue in addition to real accountability of the corrupt and the inefficient. The proposed rectifications would not only improve the balance of payment and balance of trade of Pakistan but would also ensure development through domestic revenue resources.

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