ISLAMABAD: Chambers and trade bodies have recently received dozens of complaints from importers about rampant corruption by few black sheep at Port Qasim.
Importers are suffering at the hands of corrupt officials especially Principal Appraiser Shahid Rizvi, posted at CIU Port Qasim, and his companion, Rana, who are using different illegal tactics to harass the importers and delay their consignments for at least 20 days. Even Rana is used to threaten these importers of physical harm if they refuse to pay the speed money.
These lower cadre Customs officials have deliberately made the clearance process so difficult and lengthy that genuine importers are forced to pay the speed money to save their loss of millions of rupees. These corrupt officials earn a bad name for Customs Dept which has successfully shifted the manual process to electronic clearing so consignments are cleared in a single day.
After different newspapers covered at length the grievances of genuine importers and Multan and Faisalabad chambers raised the issue, FBR high-ups came into action and directed the officials concerned to start inquiry against such corrupt elements.
FBR Chairman Tariq Mehmood Pasha has directed all board members to take prompt action on complaints and information against those officers and officials who are involved in corrupt practices at Port Qasim. He has directed Member Customs Zahid Khokhar to closely observe the affairs at Port Qasim, and resolve the issues and submit the report in this regard.
It is pertinent to mention here that Member Customs Zahid Khokhar has already taken notice of complaints of importers regarding Port Qasim.
Meanwhile, FBR Member Admin Ms. Tasneem Rehman has also issued instructions for starting probe into complaints and allegations levelled by importers about corruption at Port Qasim. She has directed the admin and Customs authorities to inquire the issue and report back. She said if officers are found involved then proper investigation should be launched after constituting an inquiry committee. She said elimination of corruption in Federal Board of Revenue field formations is top priority.
Earlier, Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Senior Vice President Mian Bakhtwar Tanvir Sheikh said that importers repeatedly face immoral behaviour from Customs staff at Port Qasim during clearance of their import shipments due to dishonest staff like Shahid Rizvi. Importers of South Punjab are facing challenges at large scale for the clearance of their import consignments due to presence of dishonest Customs officials at Port Qasim.
He told that Port Qasim is the key port for the clearance of import shipments in the country but importers pay extra charges in the shape of kickbacks to Customs staff and corrupt officials at the time of clearance. He further added if importers and exporters did not pay bribe to Customs staff they face delay in clearance of their consignment. The government should form special committee to resolve issues of importers at Port Qasim for swift clearance of their consignments without any delay.
Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vice President Sheikh Fazal Elahi told Customs Today that importers and exporters are facing complex clearing procedure besides corruption by few Customs officials at Port Qasim. He said that the government has never taken any strict action against these fraudulent officials like Shahid Rizvi who are involved in the corruption, blackmailing and bribery at Port Qasim. He suggested that corrupt officials should be terminated to set example in the country.
Meanwhile, All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran’s Khawaja Suleman Siddiqui informed Customs Today that they received frequent complaints of wrongdoings at Port Qasim by the Customs officials and they are not hopeful from this government that it will take any action against corrupt officials of Port Qasim like Shahid Rizvi. He appealed to honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan to take suo moto notice against PA Shahid Rizvi to stop blackmailing of Customs staff at the time of clearance of their shipments.