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Customs I&I field staff should not violate section 25, 32-A of Customs Act 1969: LTBA

Customs I&I field staff should not violate section 25, 32-A of Customs Act 1969: LTBA

LAHORE: The Lahore Tax Bar Association (LTBA) office-bearers said the Customs Intelligence and Investigation must follow section 25 and section 32-A of the Customs Act 1969 while performing their duties in the field. The Customs Intelligence and Investigation should also arrange training sessions for officials at least once a year.

This was stated by LTBA Vice President Shahbaz Saddique, General Secretary Abdul Waheed and Finance Secretary Rana Mubashir Hassan while talking to Customs Today.

They said there was a need to develop coordination between government departments and business community to strengthen the national economy. They added the field staff of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation should perform its duties according to the law.

During a panel interview, all three office-bearers said that duties and jurisdictions of all officials of the Customs I&I are mentioned in the rules of business. If all the departments and officials perform their duties within their jurisdictions, then a lot of issues could be resolved, they said.

Saddique said the duties and responsibilities of all the departments are mentioned in the prescribed laws. He added that if the law allows the customs officials to check the valuation of transported goods then they should check all the record during the transportation and if the law restricts the customs staff to check just the legal status then officials may check lawful status of the imported goods.

They said if any businessman/importer pays his liabilities of taxes and duties then the customs staff should avoid examining goods and vehicles.

LTBA General Secretary Abdul Waheed said Inland Revenue and Customs Departments are major revenue collection sources of the country. Many officers are interested in increasing their own assets than the national income, he said.

To strengthen the national economy, the government should take some serious measures to control corruption in the country. Waheed said corruption is not only in FBR but in other departments, and the government needed to take serious steps to overcome corruption from top level to the grass root level.

Finance Secretary Rana Mubashir Hassan said the lack of education and awareness about the rules and regulations in customs officials and importers create a lot of troubles for both parties.

Mubashir said the Customs Department should manage training sessions for the officials. All departments manage training only once in the service that is a serious issue and the government must arrange tanning sessions for all officials at least once in a year.

It is worth mentioning that even the superior courts have repeatedly held that the Customs Directorate General of Intelligence have no mandate to examine, assess or seize goods that are already cleared by the appropriate appraisement staff. They have emphatically held that the said Directorate does not have powers to exercise or invoke Section 25 or Section 32 (mis-declaration) of Customs Act, 1969. [Refer The Honorable High Court Judgments 2005 P T D 23 (Annex- B) and 2004 P T D 2994 (Annex – C)].

Sources added that the honorable superior courts have repeatedly held that the domain of the Customs Directorate of Intelligence is to stop smuggling. When certain staffers are busy in their illegal activities of examination and assessments of already cleared goods, they lose their focus on smuggling activities, rather even they allow smuggled goods to transfer from place to place for bribe. Thus, the country suffers trillions of rupees losses in smuggling and corruption at the hands of such few notorious staff of the Customs Directorate of Intelligence.

Sources revealed that DIT Sukkur recently seized goods which were lawfully cleared from port by appraisement staff. However, one notorious Inspector of DIT Liaqat Ali stopped a truck on road and on refusal to fulfill his illegal demands by the importer; he made out a case of mis-declaration and seized the goods along with vehicle illegally.