No proof of weapon smuggling found; Commission submits report in SC

KARACHI: A commission, established by the Apex Court, has found no proof of arms smuggling from Karachi port.

The Supreme Court set up the commission headed by former Member Customs Ramzan Bhatti to probe into the matter of disappearance of Nato weapon shipments from Karachi port after the director general Rangers had told the court on August 30 that around 19,000 containers, loaded with weapons and vehicles, had gone missing during the tenure of a former minister for ports and shipping.

The commission, in its 15-page report, told the Supreme Court that the DG Rangers did not give any evidence to substantiate his claim. The sources said that most of the disappeared containers were loaded with goods for Afghan transit trade and just a few hundred containers linked to Nato.

The commission also rejected any impression that the investigation was influenced by the US embassy. Earlier, US official, in a statement, also denied that any Nato containers had gone missing from the Karachi port.

It was also admitted in the report that due to lack of proper facilities, the Customs Department cannot check every instance of smuggling. The commission, however, rejected link of Karachi’s poor law and order situations with the workings of the Customs Department.

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DG I&I due in Directorate Customs today

KARACHI: The Director General (DG) Customs Intelligence and Investigation (I&I) Riaz Khan will visit Directorate of Customs I&I office in Karachi today and hold meetings with the officials.

Sources in Directorate Customs Investigation and Intelligence (I&I) told Customs Today that the DG Customs Intelligence will also review the performance of the officials in Directorate Customs I&I and evolve an effective strategy for curbing the tax evasion in future.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Directorate of Customs Intelligence & Investigation has recently detected and seized many cases of duty evasion.

Directorate Customs I&I facing shortage of staff, equipment

KARACHI: Directorate of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation (I&I), Karachi is facing shortage of staff and latest equipment.

Sources in Directorate of Customs (I&I) told Customs Today that no new recruitment in the department has been made for last 15 years.

“Sepoys, who are currently working in the department, are aged while no recruitment has been made in place of them”, he added.

He further said that lack of office strength is also affecting the performance of Customs I&I but the department is providing best services in limited resources.

“Due to limited resources, the department often faces difficulties to conduct any operation”, he added.

“If the prevailing shortfall of employees and equipment is addressed, the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Department could safeguard more revenue by conducting raids”, he added.

When contacted Additional Director Customs Intelligence and Investigation, Mumtaz Ali Khoso said that the department has already written a letter to officials concerned in this regard and hoped that they will take appropriate action accordingly.

It is pertinent to mention here that no new recruitment has also been made in Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) Preventive under grade 17 for last 15 years.

Siraj Teli seeks foolproof security for business community

KARACHI: Businessmen Group Chairman and former KCCI president Siraj Kassam Teli demanded the Prime Minister of Pakistan to provide security and safety to the business and industrial community as well as the Karachiites from the criminal elements.

In a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif at Governor House Karachi, Kassam Teli said, “Karachi is a goose laying golden eggs and everyone wants to snatch these eggs whether it is an individual, political party, law enforcing agency, tax collecting agency or other group. The criminal and unscrupulous elements of the society want to kill this goose.”

Teli stated that the Businessmen Group of KCCI, representing over 90 per cent business and industrial communities of Karachi, had been constantly raising their voices and suggesting corrective measures to control law & order situation for the last many years, but in vain.

He lamented, “All the law enforcing agencies and the government of the day just keep on assuring the industrialists and traders but to no avail.” He demanded extraordinary measures to maintain law and order in the city.

Rs3.734b collected on account of indirect tax

KARACHI: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) collected Rs3.734 billion additional revenue on account of indirect tax owing to budgetary steps.

The Board generated additional revenue up to Rs640.93 million after raising standard rate of sales tax from 16pc to 17pc in local supplies as the impact of this increased rate on imports stood at Rs2.68 billion.

Likewise, FBR collected Rs131.26m from 1pc further tax on taxable supplies to unregistered individuals while Rs220.738m from withdrawal of 50pc exemption to KP selected districts, Fata and Pata, and Rs52.9m from withholding of whole amount of sales tax on purchases made from unregistered persons.

FBR to receive manual returns for incomes below Rs0.5m

KARACHI: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) officials have said that salaried persons earning between Rs400, 000 to Rs500, 000 now can file income tax returns manually.

A senior tax official at Regional Tax Office (RTO) Karachi said that the electronic filing of returns was compulsory for salaried individuals driving income above Rs500,000.

The Finance Act, 2013 brought certain changes into the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 by making it mandatory for salaried persons drawing annual income above Rs400,000 to file income tax returns.

Before the amendments, the statement of deduction filed by employers for salaried persons for income between Rs0.4m to Rs0.5m was enough and such people were not required to file their returns. In this regard, FBR has already issued a circular last month to explain the amendments.

A tax official also clarified that such amendment was only made compulsory for the salaried individuals earning above Rs500,000 annually. He explained that those persons driving income below the mark but above Rs400,000 could file manually or through any other digitised format.

According to a tax facilitation guide issued by FBR explained that where filing was not compulsory the taxpayer could file returns through hard copies, which could be delivered by post, courier service or by hand to the regional taxpayers’ offices.

The tax official said that all the persons were also required to submit their wealth statements during ongoing tax year and the last date of income tax filing had been extended to September 30.

On August 26, FBR issued a draft Income Tax Return form for the tax year 2013 inviting comments from stakeholders.

The sources said that the Board had estimated about seven million tax returns for the years due to amendments to tax laws.

15-member committee, Customs officials discuss WeBOC issues

KARACHI: A 15-member committee comprising members of Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA), export committee, trade bodies and others held a meeting with Customs officials including Project Director (PD) WeBOC Tanveer Ahmed, additional collectors, deputy collectors and assistant collectors and discussed issues related to WeBOC system installed at Customs House, Karachi.

The meeting was chaired by PD WeBoC Tanveer Ahmed and issues pertaining to WeBOC came under discussion.

Well informed sources told Customs Today that 15-member committee expressed its reservations over the formation of WeBOC without consultation with all stakeholders.

Sources further informed this scribe that the committee members also came hard on the performance of terminal operators and delay in grounding the containers. The trade bodies including Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Federal Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI), exporters and customs agents were of the view that they are suffering huge losses in shape of demurrage/detention charges.

“Customs officials assured the trade bodies and other members for redressal of the issues on immediate basis”, sources claimed.

They further informed that a high level meeting of the committee members with high-ups of Customs officials including chief collectors and collectors is likely to be held in coming days.

It is pertinent to mention here that Customs officials in coordination with members of other stakeholders had decided to form a committee for redressal of the issues facing by customs agents and other trade bodies.

First meeting in this regard was held on Thursday and attended by Saifullah Khan (President KCAA), Yahya Muhammad (General Secretary KCAA), Qamar Alam (former Senior Vice President Export), Amin Essani (former Senior Vice President KCAA), Wasiq Hussain (former General Secretary KCAA), Faisal Mushtaq (former General Secretary KCAA), Shams Burney, (Senior Vice President All Pakistan Customs Agents Association) Arshad Jamal, Basit Ahmed (KCCI member) and others.