Currency declaration at airports made mandatory

Published: June 30, 2019
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PHOTO: FILE

PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The customs department has established currency declaration counters at all airports where passengers travelling on international routes are bound to declare volume of foreign currencies at both arrivals and departures.

“Adult passengers travelling on international routes are allowed to carry a maximum of $10,000 on each visit. The limit for children aged less than 18 years is $5,000 and it is $500 for infants,” a Customs official told The Express Tribune.

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Foreign currencies other than the US dollar should be equivalent or less than the allowed limits. “Money for local airport expenses should not be mixed with the foreign currencies,” he said.

Besides, the passengers are also bound to declare volume of gold and precious and semi-precious stones at the airports, according to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) notification that announced proposed amendments in the Baggage Rules 2006 on June 22.

The passengers would also be bound to declare satellite phones, if they carry, in a prescribed declaration form. The amendments are aimed at combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to integrity of the international financial system.

Failure to achieve the set objectives may lead to blacklisting of Pakistan in October 2019 by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), it was learnt.

The introduced amendments also bind passengers to declare purpose of their international visit whether its nature is personal, official, business and tourism, according to the FBR notification.

The travellers would also be bound to declare, whether they are carrying, prohibited and restricted goods such are narcotics, psychotropic substances, firearms, weapons, etc.

One duty-free mobile phone facility ends

The FBR has also proposed through the amendments to withdraw the facility allowing citizens to bring one duty-free mobile phone once in a year at return to the country from abroad. Sources said the FBR has decided to end the facility after the phones smugglers started to misuse it.

The FBR and Customs had received complaints that smugglers have been misusing passengers’ travel documents to take benefit of tax exemption on bringing one duty-free mobile phone each year.

The end of the facility would not only check the smugglers, but would also generate revenue for the cash-strapped government. The government has set an ambitious tax revenue collection target of Rs5.55 trillion for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2019 that is almost 40% higher than the tax amount to be collected in the outgoing fiscal year 2018-19.

The government has set the ambitious tax revenue collection target to narrow down the widening fiscal deficit under the commitments made to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under its bailout package worth $6 billion scheduled to be approved on Wednesday (July 3).

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Besides fulfilling the FAFT obligations, the declaration of foreign currencies, gold, precious and semi-precious stones would also help arrest capital flight due to which the government has continuously been facing depletion in foreign currency reserves for the last two years.

Earlier, currency dealers had suggested the government to cut limit of $10,000 for adult international passengers to $3,000-5,000 in a bid to prevent capital flight. Besides, they had also asked government to check smuggling of foreign currencies in Pakistani areas bordering with Afghanistan and Iran.

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