ISLAMABAD: In a latest move to curb institutionalised corruption, tax authorities have unearthed a racket of customs officials, importers and clearing agents involved in evasion of millions of rupees in duties on imported goods.
The intelligence and investigation wing of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) confiscated 15 consignments, which were cleared by customs officials on false declarations.
The tax authorities have initially estimated a loss of Rs12 million on account of false declaration and subsequent clearance by the Model Customs Collectorate, Appraisement, Karachi, says a handout of the FBR.
The goods were declared as adult diapers, citrus juicers, earth-moving machinery parts, liner kits, diesel engine replacement parts, oil pumps, fuel pumps, chair parts, etc. The customs staff did not verify the declarations through physical examination of goods.
On physical examination, the intelligence wing instead found baby diapers, blue tooth, mobile chargers, watches, lithium, sun glasses, optical frames, pad locks, plastic beads, motorcycle parts, cosmetics, CCD cameras, gift sets, readymade garments, TV kits and fly backs. The consignments also contained restricted items like satellite receivers, low-noise convertors and satellite dishes.
It was the second such fraud detected in 10 days. The FBR intelligence wing unearthed a racket of fake sales tax refunds. The accused in the sales tax refund scam have been remanded in custody. The tax machinery is also facing criticism for its involvement in billions of rupees worth of duty evasion under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement.
To improve the tarnished image, the government recently replaced the FBR chairman, key members and officials from Grade 18 to 20. The FBR is under criticism for massive corruption in the organisation despite the fact its officials are entitled to handsome salaries. A World Bank report has estimated annual tax evasion and avoidance of Rs796 billion in Pakistan.
The imported value of the 15 consignments has been estimated at Rs25 million. The authorities have lodged first investigation reports (FIRs) against the importers, clearing agents and customs officials involved in the false declaration.
These consignments were imported by 13 commercial importers namely Musani Enterprises, AMR Enterprises, Rehman Impex, MS Enterprise, FA Enterprise, Farhaj Enterprises, JR International, Jessani Steel, Zorain Enterprises, Sohajee Shaikhjee & Sons, MY Iqbal & Co, Zafar & Sons and A Z Enterprises.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2011.
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