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ATT scam: President PAJCCI expresses concerns over issuance of show-cause notices to Customs agents

ATT scam: President PAJCCI expresses concerns over issuance of show-cause notices to Customs agents

KARACHI: Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, President PAJCCI, has expressed grave concern over issuance of unjustified show cause notices to the Custom House Agents dealing in Afghan Transit Trade (ATT). He established that this matter is greatly affecting hundreds of customs and border agents and their families, which are harassed continuously during the process.

This was discussed in greater detail with Saifullah Khan, President, Karachi Customs Agents Association in a meeting with Zubair Motiwala, President PAJCCI; Khan Jan Alkozai, Co-President PAJCCI; Engr. Daroo Khan, VP PAJCCI and M. Yonass Momand, VP PAJCCI. Other Directors present at the meeting were A.Q. Khalil, Junaid Makda, Zia Sarhadi, Haji Hameedullah, Haji Abdul Quyyum Kakar, Niaz Muhammad (President Chamber) and Haji Nizamuddin Tajzadda.

Saifullah Khan specified that they are facing immense harassment and are not been given an opportunity to defend their case appropriately. The agents are willing to clarify their stance and possess all necessary evidence to defend their positions but they are extremely disappointed with the process of inquiry wherein their right to defence is affected. He further stressed that the role of the Custom House Agents, especially who deal in Afghan Transit Trade in the light of Public Notices No. 16/2000 dated 30-09-2000 (Appraisement) and 05/2003 dated 06-11-2003 (Port Qasim) is clearly well-defined. As per these Customs and Public notices, their respective role ends right after customs allows loading and sealing of goods within the port/terminal premises and later the same is handed over to the national carrier and customs authority.

It is pertinent to note that there are two types of transportation made for Afghan Transit Trade: the commercial (Karachi to Chaman/Amangarh) and non-commercial (Karachi to cross border in Afghanistan). In case of commercial cargo it is possible to complete the journey within eight days or less time. Majority of the agents that are involved in the inquiry dealt with commercial consignments only, therefore clearing agents who have no role in ISAF missing containers scam should not be made part of the case. It was also discussed that at the time of pilferage, during 2007-2010, the bonded carriers responsible for the transportation were Pakistan Railway and National Logistics Cell (NLC) therefore the inquiry should specifically involve officials of the respective carriers.

Zubair Motiwala mentioned that in connection with the meeting held at Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry and keeping the concerns in view, Muhammad Haroon Agar (President KCCI) also issued letter to Wajid Ali Durrani, Director General, NAB Sindh followed by a subsequent letter written by PAJCCI in this context for immediate resolution of this grave matter.

Motiwala has shown immense concern over harassment of Customs Clearing, Forwarding and Border Agents in case of NATO Forces Containers Scandal and has urged Ministry of Commerce, Federal Board of Revenue, Federal Tax Ombudsman, NAB and other relevant officials in this context and has sought the government to take immediate notice of the matter in hand and resolve it in an amicable manner. He also inquired that under which law or clause these show cause notices are being issued, keeping the inquiries in view.

He further elaborated that business communities across the border will be kept on board in this process of development and further facilitation would be extended from the platform of PAJCCI. He also assured to raise voice from this platform to help resolve issues and grievances of the business community across the border. He further reiterated that agents may be given proper chance to present their case and related evidences and also convenience may be ensured to the clearing agents especially from Chaman or Peshawar who is asked to present them for their case at Karachi. This is not only time consuming but also costly for them apart from the business loss which they are already incurring. It would therefore be appreciated if they can present their cases at Quetta and Peshawar respectively.

He further established that PAJCCI represents business community/traders/agents working across the border and this case is of immense importance to our one of the most important stakeholders, customs and border clearing agents. It would, therefore, be appreciated if PAJCCI may be kept in loop or is involved in the process of inquiries pertaining to this scandal, ensuring further facilitation.