FBR, Customs high-ups take notice: Importers demand action against ‘corrupt’ PA, Appraiser at Port Qasim

KARACHI: Following its long-held agenda of wiping out corruption from the country, Customs Today once again strongly raised its voice against the incidents of rampant corruption going unchecked in assessment at Port Qasim by customs officials especially Principal Appraiser Tariq Aziz and Appraiser Zubair. Importers approached Customs Today to take their grievances and problems being faced in the assessment process to FBR and Customs high-ups as DC Athar Naveed — supervisor of PA and Appraiser — failed to smoothly run the assessment process and check the corruption of the said officials.

After Customs Today highlighted the problems of importers, Chairman FBR Tariq Bajwa, Member Customs Nisar Muhammad Khan and Collector Port Qasim Surriya Ahmad Butt took notice of importers’ plight in assessment process. They also warned the authorities concerned of MCC-Port Qasim that disciplinary action would be taken against those Customs officials found involved in corruption and malpracticing.

Meanwhile, Collector Model Customs Collectorate-MCC Port Muhammad Bin Qasim Surriya Ahmed Butt has separately warned the customs officials that the strict disciplinary action would be taken against those customs officials who violated the guidelines issued by the Collectorate.

According to details, the Collector issued directives to the authorities concerned that all assessment of the imported consignments should be done in stipulated time without any delay.

Collector Surriya Ahmed Butt further said that all Customs’ officials should ensure zero pendency in their inbox on daily basis regarding the assessment of the imported consignments, adding that the assessment should be done as per Customs rules and ready reference of Customs valuation.

The Collector took the said decision in the light of the issues being faced by the importers in the process of assessment. According to confirmed information given by some cadres of importers, Principal Appraiser of Group-VII Tariq Aziz is openly demanding bribe from the importers in assessing their consignments, and upon refusing he assessed the consignments at higher value without any evidence.

One of the importers while sharing his views with Customs Today said that principal appraiser of Group-VII Tariq Aziz was openly asking for Rs0.1 million as bribe from him in order to clear his consignments and upon refusing to do so, the principal appraiser assessed the consignments at higher value.

The importers were of the view that the Customs officials at MCC-Port Qasim adopted an unjustified assessment method to achieve the revenue targets assigned by the Collectorate.

“The principal appraiser of Group-VII has assessed the value of goods at US$1.25 without applying origin discount, as the goods were imported from China, but the Customs official assessed it at the United Kingdom (UK) rate”, he added.

The importer on condition of anonymity further informed this scribe that the stubborn attitude of the principal appraiser Tariq Aziz and appraiser Zubair of MCC-Port Qasim caused difficulties for the importers as well as tarnished the image of Pakistan Customs Department.

He further alleged that the principal appraiser told him that he was enjoying the support of deputy collector of Group-VII and without his consent the consignment would not be cleared, otherwise, the importer should have to please him and his immediate high-ups.

Importers were of the view that despite the clear directives issued by the Collector Port Qasim, Deputy Collector Athar Naveed failed to facilitate the traders. The importers also told that DC Athar Naveed also did not address their grievances being the head of the PA and Appraiser. Besides, they found him always engaged in eating breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks or taking nap in his office and importers had to wait outside for 3-4 days to report this matter.

The importers while strongly decrying the attitude of the deputy collector stated that no government office allows its officers to take meal and nap five times a day during office hours. The importers while sharing their views with Customs Today hoped that the authorities concerned of the Collectorate will seriously look into the matter and take cohesive action against those Customs officials and officers who are involved in corruption.

They demanded of FBR high-ups to take the disciplinary action against PA Tariq Aziz and Appraiser Zubair for seeking bribe from importers as they had strong evidence against these officials. They said that FBR Chairman should set example by taking prompt action against the PA and Appraiser so that govt policy of ‘zero tolerance against corruption’ could be implemented in letter and spirit.