According to a report appearing in newspapers, the intelligence wing of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has informed the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue that smugglers are misusing the Afghan Transit Trade facility, causing billions of rupees loss to the national exchequer. The report claims that a large number of consignments containing mobile phones, over 4,000 air-conditioners, communication equipment and electronic goods worth Rs 357 million have been confiscated. The report also says that instead of sending to Afghanistan, the items worth billions of rupees were stored in the warehouse of a multinational courier company in Islamabad from where these were to be supplied to the domestic market. The company has now removed its chief executive officer for Pakistan while intelligence wing of the FBR has arrested the owner of an Afghan firm who had imported the goods and two general managers of the company.According to the FBR, the ATT consignments are transported in sealed containers from Karachi to the Afghan border and neither the board nor any other agency is authorised to check the goods. But it is believed that the goods are either offloaded somewhere in Karachi to consign them to the other cities of the country or taken across the border to bring them back. Whatever the case may be the sale of goods in the country is illegal as no duty is paid on any of these items.
As a matter of fact, the smuggling of electronic goods, cloths and other household items in the garb of afghan Transit Trade is not a new phenomenon. Thousands of large and small vendors are involved in the sale of smuggled goods and big Bara markets have now been set up in every big city of the country where every kind of foreign goods are available at cheap prices. People from the middle and poor classes flock these markets every day and purchase commodities of their choices at cheapest rates. Has there been nominal duty on such items, these could have been imported through legal channels. There is a need to devise a policy under which the household items are imported by paying nominal taxes and duties to curb the menace of smuggling in the country.