Customs agents call off countrywide strike after successful talks

KARACHI: Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) and All Pakistan Customs Agents Association (APCAA) on Wednesday called off their countrywide strike after successful talks with Collector Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) West Muhammad Saleem who assured them to redress their issues as soon as possible.

Sources informed Customs Today that a delegation of Customs agents comprising President KCAA Saifullah Khan, General Secretary Yahya Muhammad, Chairman APCAA Syed Shams Burney, Senior Vice President APCAA Arshad Jamal, Zahid Qazi, Ifthiqar Shaikh and others met with the Collector Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) West Muhammad Saleem at his office.

Sources further told that an Assistant Collector Mukhtiar Shaikh and a principal appraiser acted as a bridge between Customs Department and Customs agents in order to hold discussions.

During the meeting, the Customs officials agreed upon to conduct re-hearing of the show-cause notices issued against Customs Agents in Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) scam. He also assured that no new ONO would be issued against them. The Customs officials also assured the Customs agents to constitute a committee for redressal of their grievances regarding WeBOC.

Chief Collector Appraisement terms Customs agents strike “illegal act”

KARACHI: The Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) continued their strike for second day on Wednesday against the issuance of around 1178 Order-in-Original (ONOs) to the Customs agents in Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) scam.

During the strike, the Customs agents under the supervision of KCAA President Saifullah Khan gathered outside the Customs House Karachi and chanted slogans against Pakistan Customs. They tied black armbands during the protest. The transporters bodies including Karachi Goods Transport Association, United Goods Transport Association and others also announced their unconditional support to the strike.

On the occasion, the Customs House presented deserted look as no Customs agents and importers were present in the Customs House.

The National Bank of Pakistan, Customs House branch also abandoned work after the strike call, whereas the said NBP branch remains jam-packed in normal days.

It may be mentioned here that the office-bearers of All Pakistan Customs Agents Association (APCAA) were not seen in the gathering.

Some unpleasant scenes were also witnessed outside the Customs House when Customs agents tried to restrict some of the importers from filing their GDs on self-clearance basis despite the presence of Rangers and police.

Similar incidents of harassment by clearing agents against importers were also witnessed at Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT), Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT) and Port Qasim Container Terminal (QICT).

It is pertinent to mention here that President KCAA Saifullah Khan during his press conference on September 6 had clearly announced that any importer can file his GD on the basis of self-clearance, but unfortunately, Customs agents forcefully restricted the importers to file GDs.

Meanwhile, Collector Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) West Muhammad Saleem during a press briefing at his office said that the doors are wide open for discussions with Customs agents.

Giving details, the Collector MCC-West said that total 918 GDs have been filed till afternoon despite the strike, adding that routine activities remained continued at all ports.

“Customs agents have legitimate right to submit an appeal against issuance of ONOs and the Pakistan Customs will give an opportunity to them for hearing their multiple show-cause notices in a single day”, he added.

On the occasion, Collector MCC-West urged the Customs agents to adopt the way of discussions, adding that the officials of Pakistan Customs have clear directives from FBR chief Tariq Bajwa to listen to the issues of Customs agents with appropriate evidences and decide such issues on merit.

“We would follow the law and directives of FBR high officials. Pakistan Customs has taken up all important issues for redressal and sent a detailed report to the FBR chief in this regard”, Collector MCC-West added.

When contacted, Chief Collector Appraisement Nasir Masroor Ahmed termed the strike of Customs agents as “illegal act” and said that they should register their protests with Collector Appeals. Being license holders of Pakistan Customs, they should not indulge themselves in such illegal acts (strikes).

“They are violating the laws and rules of Pakistan Customs and their strikes do not even affect revenue generation, but the importers may be affected from the strike of Customs agents, as they have to pay demurrage/detention charges due to late clearance of goods from terminals”, he added.

“The Pakistan Customs have called officials of Law Enforcing Agencies (LEAs) including Rangers and police in order to avoid any untoward incident during the strike, adding that if any Customs agents want to continue their routine practice to file GDs, the Customs Department will provide them appropriate security in this regard”, Chief Collector MCC Appraisement asserted.

Customs Agents strike: Economy to suffer Rs 10b loss per day

KARACHI: The national economy will suffer a loss of around Rs10 billion per day, owing to the countrywide indefinite strike called by All Pakistan Customs Agents Association (APCAA) and Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) against the issuance of more than 1100 Order-in-Original (ONO) against the Customs Agents in Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) scam.

President KCAA Saifullah Khan and Chairman APCAA Syed Shams Burney in a joint press conference along with other office-bearers at Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Friday had announced the countrywide strike for indefinite period. The transporters’ bodies have also backed the strike call of Customs agents.

Sources in Customs Department told Customs Today that around 2000 GDs (Goods Declaration) of Import and Export are filed every day in which 1200 GDs of Import and around 600-800 GDs of Export are filed every day, which makes up the revenue of around Rs 10 billion per day.

In this regard, a meeting of the members of KCAA and APCAA was also held at the office of the KCAA on Monday, in which the office-bearers and the members of KCAA and APCCA vowed to go on strike for indefinite period against issuance of ONOs.

President KCAA Saifullah Khan, Chairman APCAA Syed Shams Burney, General Secretary KCAA Yahya Muhammad, Senior Vice President KCAA Sagheer Ahmed, Senior Vice President Arshad Jamal and other office-bearers were also present on the occasion.

A proper strategy has also been finalised in order to launch the protest in effective manner. Nine committees of Customs agents in every sector including East Wharf, West Wharf, Port Qasim, AFU-Import, AFU-Export and others have been formed to mobilize the Customs agents for strike.

President KCAA Saifullah Khan and Chairman APCAA Syed Shams Burney told Customs Today that they will not postpone or call off strike in any circumstances, until or unless Chairman FBR and Federal Minister for Finance ensure redressal of Customs Agents grievances.

“We will only negotiate with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Chairman FBR Tariq Bajwa the issues of releasing ONOs against Customs agents and pathetic working of WeBOC”, Saifullah Khan asserted.

To a query, President KCAA confirmed that a delegation comprising Collector had contacted for discussion, but the associations rejected their offer, as the office-bearers and the members of both the Customs agents associations wanted to hold deliberations only with Finance Minister and FRB Chairman.

Sources told Customs Today that Customs Agents have demanded reopening of ONOs against Customs agents according to the Section 195 of the Customs Act, 1969.

They further informed that a meeting of the KCAA and APCAA office-bearers was held with Chairman FBR and Member Customs in Islamabad in July, in which they were assured that no action and show-cause notices would be issued against Customs agents in ATT scam.

Sources informed that a delegation of Pakistan Customs including Collector Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) Preventive Tariq Huda, Collector MCC-West Muhammad Saleem and Collector MCC Port Qasim invited a joint delegation of KCAA and APCAA comprising President KCAA Saifullah Khan, Chairman APCAA Syed Shams Burney, Senior Vice President APCAA Arshad Jamal, Zahid Qazi and others for discussions at Customs House, Karachi at 11 pm on Monday but they failed to reach consensus over the issue.

Lahore Customs Agents launch strike

LAHORE: Lahore Customs Agents Association has decided to go on complete strike today at all stations in order to express solidarity with the Karachi Customs Agents Association. The decision was taken in an emergent meeting of the body.

Lahore Customs Agents Association Chairman M Amjad Chaudhry and President Agha Iftikhar said that FIRs were registered against Customs Agents in Karachi to change the facts in Afghan Transit Trade missing containers scam adding that Customs Agents are also being arrested in the case.

They said that Customs Clearing Agents handed over cargo and containers to the approved bonded carriers after fulfilling all legal requirements, adding that the carriers are duty bound to deliver all relevant documents and containers to Customs officials.

Lahore Customs Agents Association President Agha Iftikhar said that Customs officials should not use such tactics to malign the Customs agents and save the real culprits.

KCAA elections’ schedule announced

KARACHI: The Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) has announced its annual elections’ schedule for the year 2013-14.

According to the details, the annual elections of the KCAA for the year 2013-14 would be held on September 26 while the last date of filing the nomination forms for contesting elections would be September 11.

Scrutiny of the nomination papers will be held on September 13 while the list of valid nominations will be displayed on Sept 14.

Moreover, the last date of withdrawal of the nominations would be Sept 23.The final list of the candidates will be displayed on September 23.

 

APCAA prepares 20-point agenda for Customs dept improvement

KARACHI – All Pakistan Customs Agents Association (APCAA) has prepared a 20-point agenda for discussion with the Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Chief Collector (Appraisement) in order to improve the work of Customs Department.

The points of agenda are as follows:-

The APCAA has demanded introduction of methods in order to curb corruption from the department.

Removal of complications created due to the enhancement of Customs stations.

Introduction of hassle-free procedure to enroll the taxpayers in the department by providing them ID and password, as this process is affecting with corruption.

Amendments in the process of collecting Customs levy at National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Custom House Branch.

Induction of automation in WeBOC; as it is imperative to curb corruption and helps in elucidate the entire procedure.

Standing orders to be issued to restrict the declarant for mentioning proper description, weight, quantity and other information in the light of Customs tariff and valuation rulings, as the submission of inaccurate Goods Declarations (GDs) is continued with the connivance of Customs officials”, it recommended.

Hold of the procedure of filing self goods declaration by commercial sector, as it causes to sabotage the system.

The APCAA urges valuation ruling along with HS code in order to determine the exact value of duty and taxes besides facilitating goods declarants.

It recommends restricting assessment appraisers not to call unnecessary consignments for examination and conduct assessment in its true spirit, as assessment on excess valuation invites reviews that open the door for corruption.

Modification and improvement of the performance of FTA procedure, as the posts of FTA checking and scanning have become most lucrative position.

Secrecy in assessment hall, where sepoys are active to facilitate Appraisers in malpractice, as one can easily find CRN/Container Nos on phones of all officials and sepoys that prove no clearance without human interaction, tarnishing the concept of automation.

It further recommends appropriate action against corrupt Customs officials including assistant collectors, deputy collectors and additional collectors without any further delay.

Ask the Principal Appraisers (PAs) not to uphold the consignments, due to no contacts in cases if reviews.

Set a deadline for the officials to complete the reviews.

The APCAA recommends the Customs Department to adopt 24×7 policy in order to reduce clearance time, as there is no dearth of Appraisers and PAs.

Establishment of Service Center at Custom House in order to deal the issues related to Port Qasim on 24×7 basis.

Addressing the complaints related to containers grounding, goods for examination, lack of skilled labours and surveyors, adding that separate joint meetings should be convened with the terminals and terminals should be controlled by Pakistan Customs under the SRO.

It also recommends enrollment of several international lines, operating in Pakistan with Customs Department.

APCAA also demands withdrawal of Saturday, as public holiday in prevailing law and order situation of the city, as it creates excessive financial burden on traders in terms of high demurrage, container rent and etc.

FBR committee to redress problems of importers, clearing agents

KARACHI: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has decided to form a committee in collaboration with the Customs Department and other stakeholders including clearing agents and industrialists in order to facilitate the importers and clearing and forwarding agents and to take steps to curb the corruption in the department.

Sources in the Customs Department told Customs Today that a 15-member committee headed by the Project Director, (PD) WeBoC comprising other officials of the Customs Agents Association, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).

“The committee will look after the issues facing by the importers and clearing agents and highlight the flaws of the Customs Department and work for its betterment”, they added.

Sources further informed that the recommendations in this regard have been sent to the Chairman FBR for approval and soon the committee will be formed.

Clearing agents and importers were of the view that the committee will definitely work for the redressal of the problems faced by them.

They lauded the said initiative taken by the high authorities of FBR and other related offices.