Islamabad: A meeting of the Standing Committee on Commerce was held on 26th May, 2011 at 11:00 pm in the Committee Room No.07, Parliamentary House, Islamabad. Engineer Khurram Dastagir Khan, MNA/Chairman Standing Committee on Commerce chaired the meeting. The agenda of meeting was as under:-
i. Current status of Afghanistan Pakistan Transit trade agreement (APTTA).
ii. Deliberation on ways and means to stop smuggling as a result of Transit Trade.
iii. Any other item with the permission of the Chair.
Members of National Assembly Mrs. Yasmeen Rehman, Mr. Nauman Islam Sheikh, Mrs. Tahira Aurangzeb, Haji Muhammad Akram Ansari, Shireen Arshad Khan, Mr. Hamid Yar Hiraj, Mr. Iqbal Muhammad Ali Khan, Mrs. Jamila Gilani, Ch. Asghar Ali Jatt and Rana Muhammad Farooq Saeed Khan attended the meeting.
The Committee noted that Pakistan Transit Trade Rules, 2011 have been finalized by FBR. The Rules being held back due to Afghan reservations regarding definition of Customs Security for goods and Bank Guarantees for vehicles. The two issues will be discussed in the next meeting of APTTA.
The Committee said that three member’s team is going to Afghanistan to resolve the issues which should be carefully handled. It should be ensured that Pakistan should not suffer a loss. The Committee enquired how Insurance Companies will monitor. There is apprehension of corruption etc. FBR clarified that interest of Pakistan will be ensured. There are 13 routs of Central Asian States where Pakistan will be having the access after said agreement.
The Committee expressed concern that automation system of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) itself is not yet independent, effective, presently handled by the third party than, how come Pakistan may be able to have an effective automation system with Afghanistan under the said agreement.
The Committee severally criticised that agreement is about Pakistan-Afghanistan and negotiation were held in Washington, USA. The Committee was informed that ECC in 2002, made decision that in addition of Pakistan Railways, National Logistic Cell (NLC) shall also work. The Committee advised FBR to ensure that there should be no monopoly of any transporter Company.
The Committee enquired what action FBR have taken against officials of FBR who are involved in smuggling during Pakistan-Afghanistan Trade. The FBR clarified that all the big issues were unearthed by FBR itself. About 100 persons have been included in ECL. FIRS have been lodged against many senior officers of FBR. Enquiries are going ahead. About 8 grade 22 officers have been issued show cause notices. Many officers of 21 grades have been investigated.
Four interim reports have been submitted. Many reports are incomplete due to confirmation of data from Afghanistan. The Committee noted that Supreme Court have appreciated the efforts of FBR. The amount of Rs. 7 billion is involved in which investigation against NLC, FBR officers, Importers and Clearing Agents is continued. It was noted that more than 3000 trucks have not reached in Chamman and Iman Garh and it is expected that these figures will increase to more than 6000 trucks. The FBR informed that they will take disciplinary action, criminal action and recover the goods.
The Committee noted with concern that textile sector is suffering badly due to smuggling.
The Committee recommended Ministry of Commerce/ FBR to reduce smuggling. The markets of big cities of Pakistan are full of smuggling items and FBR should take tangible steps to curb smuggling. There is contrast in rules and ground realities, the Committee said.
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