ISLAMABAD: Analyzing the performance of the Customs Collectorate, Gilgit-Baltistan, Collector Muhammad Ali Raza apprised the correspondent of Customs Today that Gilgit-Baltistan Customs Collectorate performed well this year with the prudent efforts in examination and evaluation of the goods and effective monitoring by the chief collector customs (North) office.
He informed that the FBR has allocated a yearly target of Rs. 2,146.92 million regarding the duty taxes for the year 2016-17. Though the target was high yet the collectorate, through its dedicated teamwork, applied its maximum capability to achieve the monthly allocated target.
The collector was hopeful that despite the closure of the Pak-China boarder from 1st of December 2016 till 31st of March 2017, the collectorate may be able to reach Rs 2,800 million from April till 30th of June 2017 from the import activities. He added that it was the continuous encouragement and professional advice through port visits by the Chief Collector Customs (North) which bore fruit.
Replying to a question regarding the role of Pakistan Customs in the operationalization of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the collector maintained that the Pakistan Customs is the main stakeholder of the CPEC programme due to its unique professional capabilities regarding the trade facilitation. He stated that China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative is a mega infrastructure development programme that is witnessing an unprecedented level of investment from China to boost the integrated economic growth in the region of which Gilgit-Baltistan is the gateway.
He expected a trade volume of $55 billion in the wake of operationalization of the CPEC in the coming 5-10 years. However, he was of the view that lack of physical infrastructural facilities for the Gilgit-Baltistan Customs and non-existing logistic facilities at the Sost Dry Port Terminal, being the first customs border station, may create a choking point and result in an upstream supply-chain disruption if not addressed on time.
In this perspective, he added that a Chinese delegation, headed by Zhao Ge, Director General of Urumqi Customs of Peoples Republic of China, has already visited the Customs House Islamabad in May 2016 to meet Sarwat Tahira Habib, Chief Collector Customs (North), to hold talks on building up institutionalized cooperation/ relationship with each other and possibilities of opening a ‘Green Corridor’ between the two borders for agricultural goods.
The collector apprised the correspondent of Customs Today that upon the initiative of chief collector customs (North), Islamabad, he surveyed in August 2016 the physical and logistic infrastructure facilities at the Chinese Border Customs Stations of Tashkurgan and Kashgar for replicating the same at Sost Port and in Gilgit to manage the increasing flow of future volume under the CPEC.
He stressed the need for manning the collectorate with adequate hiring to avoid shortage of customs staff and operational vehicles. The correspondent was apprised that more land is being purchased at Dhanyore and Gilgit for expanding customs trade facilitation and operations.
The correspondent was further apprised that the G-B Customs, in collaboration with the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), Gilgit and Directorate General of Training & Research (Customs), launched the professional capacity building of Gilgit-Baltistan’s youth and women programme.