LAHORE: Breaking of seals and cutting of container locks, cleared by the ports, is illegal and against the law of the land, importers say.
The Customs Intelligence and Investigation, Customs directorates, Collectorates, and all other field formations have no authority to harass importers by unlawfully stopping and opening of the seals of customs cleared containers on their way to their destinations all across the country, especially in Sukkar and Multan areas, they said.
These views were expressed by importers and businessmen while talking to Customs Today here the other day.
Importers said the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) should take strict notice against the customs officials who are involved in the illegal and unlawful practices, adding that the Customs Intelligence, Collectorates and all other filed formations should not stop the containers cleared by the Karachi and other ports unless they have been provided with specified information about the transportation of smuggled goods and articles. They added that if they have suspicion that the specified container is transporting smuggled goods the customs field formations should chase the container to its godown and examine goods there.
They importers complained that the Customs Intelligence and Collectorates of the Anti-Smuggling Organizations drive the containers to their Collectoerates despite the fact they never had any laboratory or any other yard-sticks to check the goods on scientific lines except at the Karachi Port and Port Bin Qasim. They alleged that all field formations are being used for minting money by a few black sheep in the customs intelligence.
Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Import and Customs Affairs Committee member Arshad Bhatti told Customs Today that not only the customs officials are creating unwarranted hurdles in the ways of the customs cleared containers but other agencies including Excise and Taxation and police are also involved in the same practice.
He said that it is illegal to break the seal of any container by any field formation, including Customs Intelligence unless they have specified information about the specified containers. In that case they are bound to chase the container and open it at the final destination and if they find anything objectionable they may proceed further.
He added that all the hurdles are made to mint money from the importers and are increasing their cost of doing business which ultimately paid by the end consumers giving a push to inflation at the cost of the national economy.
LCCI standing committee chairman on economics and former vice president Kashif Anwer said that Customs authorities should leave cleared goods at the ports otherwise intelligence officers do away with the harassment for their vested interests on the roads.
The importers and businessmen have urged the Chairman FBR Tariq Mehmood Pasha and Member Customs Zahid Khokhar to take stock of the situation in the larger national interest to save the business activities in the country.