MULTAN: Some members of Customs Intelligence and Investigation field staff are mainly responsible for damaging legal business of the importers in the country due to their illegal examination of cleared shipments for the sake of bribery. Customs Intelligence is violating Customs law by checking legally cleared consignments and detaining it in the country.
These views were expressed by General Secretary Multan Tax Bar Association Imran Ghazi on illegal examination of import consignments by Customs Intelligence and Intelligence to blackmail importers.
He said that some staff members of Customs Intelligence and Intelligence has created negative image in the minds of importers nationwide due to their illegal actions against genuine importers by checking legally cleared consignments in the country.
He told that Customs Intelligence and Investigation has established various illegal check posts in the jurisdiction to disturb the genuine importers of country especially Southern Punjab. Customs Intelligence and Investigation are not allowed to establish any check post without prior permission of Federal Board of Revenue in the country but they are establishing permanent check posts for checking of import shipments in the jurisdiction.
The Federal Board of Revenue has notified only one check post of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Multan located in the area of Sadiqabad to curb smuggling in the region but they have deputed their staff at every toll plaza by creating their temporary check points. He said that genuine importers pay duty taxes for the clearance of their shipments but Customs Intelligence done illegal re-examination of cleared goods which cost time and money and this hectic exercise is also illegal according to directions of courts.
Customs Intelligence and Investigation has created illegal check posts in various routes for upsetting genuine importers who cleared their import batches from various dry ports of the country after proper examination and payment of their duty taxes to government. Examination and appraisement of Customs Intelligence is illegal against genuine importers under Section 32–A of the Customs Act 1969.
He told that importers face challenges for transportation of their legal shipments due to malpractice of Customs Intelligence and Investigation and we have also suggested Federal Board of Revenue to terminate field staff who blackmail importers for the safe transportation of consignments and to restore confidence of business community on said enforcement agency . He said that importers have to pay demurrage charges to shipments companies after illegal detention of cleared consignments due to disregard of Customs Intelligence and Investigation.
He said that importer who cleared their shipment form Karachi got examination in Hyderabad, Sukkur, Sadiqabad and Faisalabad which will waste his time and he paid bribe at every check post for the clearance of consignment otherwise it will be detained or seized from Customs Intelligence Field Staff due to their malpractice.
Importers have demanded financial compensation on wastage of their capital and precious time but Federal Board of Revenue have not taken any step to guard importers in the country. Customs Intelligence and Investigation has created insecurity in the genuine importers due to their blackmailing and malpractice. He further told that if Customs Intelligence and Investigation blackmailing continue like this then genuine importers will not import shipments and they will fly abroad for investments.
The Federal Board of Revenue should bring reforms in the Customs Intelligence and Investigation department to endure business activities.
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.