LAHORE: Directorate General of Training & Research (Customs) Lahore is relatively an unglamorous wing of the Customs Department but those who know about the working of this organization say that the DOT Customs is the heart and soul of the whole Department and provides it with the kind of trained manpower which produces results. This is the directorate which provides training to Customs officers who ultimately act as the guardian of the economic boarders of Pakistan. Directorate General of Training & Research Customs administers three training centres at Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi to impart training and develop training policy for personnel of Customs Department. The organization has developed over the decades since Independence in 1947.
In an exclusive interview with Customs Today, Mehboob Saqib Khan, former Director General answered many questions and traced the history of the Directorate:
“In 1973 through Administrative Reforms the Federal Services Academy became Civil Services Academy and Directorate of Inspection and Training was established at Karachi and an independent Directorate of Training was established in 1981 at Karachi and in 2000 at Lahore. The Directorate was established at Islamabad in 1997. After transfer of the Post of Director General from Islamabad to Karachi in 2005 this Directorate is working as Regional Directorate of Training & Research (Customs)”.
What are major functions of Directorate of Training & Research (Customs)?
This Directorate is providing training to the officers/officials of the Customs Department who are working in different directorates including Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation (FBR), Lahore, Directorate of Internal Audit (Customs), Lahore, Directorate of Post Clearance Audit, Lahore, Model Customs Collectorate (Appraisement), Lahore, Model Customs Collectorate (Preventive), Lahore, Model Customs Collectorate, Multan, Model Customs Collectorate, Faisalabad, and Model Customs Collectorate, Sialkot. Major functions of the Directorate include induction and post promotion training to all tiers, refresher courses for all grades, conducting test of applicants for getting New Customs Agent Licenses, 6-Day Mandatory Course for all customs agents, Computer Based Training (CBT) in collaboration with UNODC, information technology courses and international customs/taxation courses.
What is the basic goal of the training provided by the Directorate?
Well, the purpose of the Directorate is to achieve excellence in the field of taxation and economic management in South Asia and evolve into a premier regional organization, which will produce future economic mangers and leaders. The Directorate is meant to develop a Customs Academy with international links and affiliations, to serve the Customs training needs of the region as a centre of excellence in Customs Administration.
Similarly, the Directorate is supposed to develop the Academy with state-of-the-art technologies, as a future-driven training centre having its own Campus, Faculty as well as Charter to award degrees and establish training units in the Customs Collectorates/Regional Tax Offices to provide on-the-site training besides serving as a forum for professional development and resource centre for tax collectors as well as taxpayers.
What innovations have you introduced after taking over the Directorate’s reins?
It gives me immense pleasure to launch the website of the Directorate General of Training and Research of Pakistan Customs. It is a humble effort but the first step towards introducing this office to the general public and business community in particular. I hope this shows the capabilities of this office. In the past, we have held training courses for officers from Brunei and Palestine but unfortunately, due to the socio-political situation, we are not currently conducting any courses for foreigners. It is my endeavour to ask the business community and stakeholders as well as officials of the Department to come forth with suggestions and criticism for the improvement of the Directorate through this website.
It is my perception that we should train officers who can prove to be assets to the Department by solving problems of the business community, who take decisions and are not hostile to the public instead they take the business community and the clientele as their friends. If we succeed in doing this, I will be the happiest man on Earth.
In the end, I would like to thank and mention all officers of the Directorate for their input, particularly Dr. Muhammad Afzal, Additional Director, Lahore, Mr. Agha Jawad, Director, Karachi, Ms. Zahra Haider, Deputy Director, Lahore, Dr. Rizwan Basharat, Deputy Director, Lahore and Mr. Muhammad Asghar Khan, Additional Director, Islamabad.
What methodology do you adopt to train the officials?
Training methodology at the Directorate includes lectures, workshops, seminars, hands-on practice, expert talks, case studies, field trips and on-the-job and group activities consisting discussions and presentations.
What facilities do you extend to the trainees at the Directorate of Training and Research (Customs), Lahore?
The officials who come to get training at the Directorate are provided with the air-conditioned interactive class-rooms, computer lab consisting of 25 computers, multimedia projector, internet/e-mail server and a pool of well-qualified, multilingual and experienced resource persons.
How many trainees have you trained during the last few years?
I took over the charge of Directorate during 2011. However, the total number of participants trained since 2007-2013 are 7620 while the number of courses, workshops, seminars is 494. The courses enabled the Customs officials to understand the value of professionalism, leadership, excellence, perseverance, commitment, innovation and integrity.
Mehboob Saqib Khan who holds a Masters degree in Economics came 6th in the CSS examination and opted for Customs Services. Working as Chief TEPI and In-charge Input-Output Co-efficient Organization (IOCO), he saved Rs 17 billion for Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) by rationalising rebate notifications with the consent of traders. He also architected Duty Tax Remission for Export (DTRE) scheme, replaced old communication with optic fiber connectivity in the Customs House, Karachi and established connectivity throughout the country.
He is also one of the primary architects of current format of the goods declaration. He made major contribution in making the Customs Act compatible with requirements of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
As the Collector Valuation Khan reformed the procedure and published three guides for valuation of audit and got reward for detection of evasion of duty and taxes. As the Collector Preventive, he achieved targets and received rewards for detection of a gold case. As the Collector Appraisement, Karachi, he achieved the highest collection ever till that time. He introduced Automated Customs Procedure (ACP) which is operational to date. As Director Intelligence Lahore he obtained 70 kanals of land from Punjab Liquidation Board for the FBR.
He laid the foundation and completed new office of Directorate of Intelligence, Lahore. Similarly as Collector Faisalabad he took possession of 2 acres of prime land from the provincial government and payment for the land had been made 20 years ago. The government sent him in the first batch for Executive Development Programme to Harvard University, USA. He also did a course on Public-Private Partnership from Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), US.