KARACHI: Chief Collector Customs Enforcement and Compliance, Abdul Qadir Memon has said that customs department is aiming to enhance the rate of digital and automated clearance through WeBOC to 90% within a span of next one year.

Speaking at a meeting of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), he said that currently 80% containers are being cleared by WeBOC through scanners; only, 20% are cleared manually and only 8% are opened for physical inspection.

Chief Collector also announced, amid a thundering applause, that he has directed the customs check posts in upcountry to do away with the practice of stopping shipping containers for inspections; except, when there is an intelligence-based input of some wrongdoing.

Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo, President FPCCI, welcomed the visit of Abdul Qadir Memon and commended his efforts aimed at alleviating concerns of trade and industry.

Hanif Lakhany, VP FPCCI, said that the export-oriented industries are looking to customs department for more facilitation at sea and airports as the customs has the most important role at the final stage of shipment to overseas customers in order to achieve noticeable growth in exports.

Customs is doing their best effort; but, improvement is still needed like 24/7 airport customs and more use of IT applications, adequate staffing and arrangements with terminal operators on airports. Airports have become as pivotal in shipments as seaports in post-pandemic era; and, regionally and globally our competitors are benefiting from 24/7 customs and shipment facilities on airports, he added.

Shabbir Mansha Churra, Convener FPCCI’s Standing Committee on Customs, said that globally SMEs and traders have been given support packages to ward off adverse effects of COVID-19 pandemic; but, in Pakistan, we are being subjected to even more hardships through various customs and tax notices and inquiries.

He pointed out that traders have to go through unnecessary and multiple check posts; even after getting cleared at ports and borders.

He also informed the high-ranking customs officials that FPCCI has got letters from airport terminal operators that they are willing and ready expand the operating hours, and customs officials should look into it. He further added that WeBOC needs to be more effective, and fewer containers should be opened for physical examinations.

He said FPCCI is looking forward to host the Chief Collector of Customs again in coming weeks to raise the remaining issues, create awareness and have a follow-up on the progress made on the promised facilitative steps to the business community.