Pakistan Customs completes 1st int’l cargo from Gwadar

Raza Kazmi

ISLAMABAD: The FBR Spokesman, in a tweet Wednesday, disclosed that in line with the vision of Prime Minister of Pakistan to kick start operations at Gwadar Port, Pakistan Customs in coordination with the stakeholders has successfully completed first international transshipment of cargo from the Port.
The first consignment of 8 containers containing seafood has left the Port on MV Esperanza for China. This successful international transshipment will open new avenues of economic development for the country and is a testament to our readiness for international business.
Gwadar is all set to become the hub of international transshipment and will help the country in earning much needed foreign exchange in the future.
Meanwhile, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has issued a clarification on the news item captioned as “How smuggling is bleeding Pakistan’s revenue dry” published in the Express Tribune on 25 November 2020. FBR has clarified that the reporter has used a study of 2018 pertaining to smuggling of goods, the numbers of which have become outdated due to various policy and administrative measures taken by the government. The Federal Government is fully cognizant of the issue of smuggling and its negative impact on the economy. Therefore, recently, Federal Government has introduced national counter smuggling measures.
The news item points out that around 74% of the mobile phones used in Pakistan were smuggled into the country which is factually incorrect. Pakistan Customs in coordination with PTA has introduced DIRBS (Device identification, registration & blocking system) for registration of mobile devices. Now any non-duty paid/smuggled phones cannot be used in Pakistan without payment of due taxes and registration with PTA. During 2019-20, Pakistan Customs has collected Rs 54 billion as revenue through DIRBS without involving any human intervention and thus completely eliminating the usage of smuggled devices in Pakistan. This successful intervention has attracted huge investment in the country and now 17 companies are manufacturing mobile phones in Pakistan.
Better use of information technology and enforcement through targeted operations against smugglers, the issue of availability of smuggled items has been addressed to a large extent which has provided space for local industry. It is due to this reason that now people are moving towards setting up industry in Pakistan. Despite the current pandemic and sluggish demand, the textile industry of Pakistan is operating at full capacity due to unavailability of smuggled goods.
While mentioning about counter smuggling efforts, FBR has stated that a national steering committee on anti-smuggling headed by Secretary Interior Division with members from all Law Enforcement Agencies has been constituted which conducts regular meetings to review and maintain liaison amongst Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA). Pakistan Customs has made historic seizures amounting to Rs 23 billion in coordination and support from Law Enforcement Agencies during the first four months of the current financial year which is 43% higher than the seizures made during the corresponding period last year. Amendments have been introduced in the Customs Act 1969 to award harsh punishment including forfeiture of property, godowns used for storage of smuggled goods, penalty and imprisonment up to 10 years.
FBR has termed the news report as outdated and not relevant at this point of time.
TLTP adds: Meanwhile, the number of return filers may approach 6.5 million if persons having national tax number (NTN) make compliance with law.
According to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), more than 3.5 million NTN holders are not filing income tax returns. Under Section 114 of Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 the filing of income tax return is mandatory for persons to whom the NTN is issued. The existing income tax return filing is around 3 million for tax year 2019.
The FBR has launched a campaign to aware persons about their obligation. The revenue board also warned people of penal action in case they remained non-compliant beyond the deadline for filing tax returns for tax year 2020.
The last date for filing income tax return is December 08, 2020 and FBR has made it clear that no further extension will be granted beyond this date. The FBR said that it had obtained information of various undeclared transactions from withholding agents and through third party.
Meanwhile, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Wednesday exempted whole sales tax on import of medical instruments and equipment for prevention and treatment of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The FBR issued SRO 1257(I)/2020, dated November 25, 2020, to exempt the whole of sales tax on import of around 61 items. The exemption has been granted on import of such goods with effect from October 01, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

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