Officers stopped work at Customs House at midday on Friday in protest against Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) action against three officers for alleged misuse of authority.
Terming FIA’s action a violation of Section 217 of Pakistan Customs Act, the Customs Officers Association said FIA officials had resorted to unjust use of their authority by harassing the customs officers.
Work was suspended at the collectorates of Port Qasim, appraisement and Pakistan Automated Customs Computerised System (PaCCS).
According to sources, the dispute arose after an FIA assistant director arrested three officers at PaCCS collectorate for allegedly clearing a consignment under fake free trade documents and without approval of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman.
The stoppage of work at the customs caused worries for importers and exporters of goods, who may suffer losses due to delay in release of their consignments. To discuss the situation, the Customs Officers Association has called a meeting of its members on Saturday morning where a future course of action will be decided.
According to customs officers, if a document is fake the sole responsibility rests on the importer and clearing agents and FIA officials, according to Section 217 of Customs Act, should have taken permission from the FBR chairman before taking action against the customs officers.
In PaCCS, consignments are cleared on self-assessment basis and for any wrong information, the provider of documents should be held responsible, said customs officers. Under the free trade agreement, goods from China and some other countries are imported with duty concessions of 5 to 15 per cent.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2011.
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