Afghan transit containers to be cleared in two days
The government has put in place a system to reduce dwell time from the existing nine days to less than two days for Afghan transit containers at Karachi and Gwadar ports.
The target is to enhance Afghan cargo container clearance via the Green Channel to 80pc at Pakistani ports under transit trade while only 20pc containers may be marked for yellow channel (marked for assessment) or the Red Channel (marked for examination).
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has proposed several measures through a customs notification SRO829 to implement the system to drastically reduce the clearance time and minimise customs officials involvement in handling of Afghan cargoes.
It is believed the new system will not only facilitate the cargo clearance at ports but will also lead to ease of doing business for importers.Under the existing system, the goods declaration (GD) filing and its subsequent scanning, assessments for duty and taxes, examinations by appraisers took five days. However, the new system will reduce this whole process to 10 minutes in 80pc cases, while 20pc cargo will be selected by the risk management system for scanning.
It will be determined in scanning whether to refer cargo for assessment or examination in case of any discrepancy otherwise it will be re-routed to green channel.
The customs computerised system will assess the pattern of GDs filed for local home consumption and the amount equal to leviable duty and taxes will be deducted from the face value of revolving insurance guarantee as customs security. The same amount will be credited after completion of cross border formalities at the border customs stations—Torkham, Chaman, Ghulam Khan, Sust etc.
At the same time, one-day time is required for pasting seal on container and tracker, which will now be reduced to few hours in the new system. The time required for reaching of a container from berth to gate out is eight days. This time will be reduced to one and a half days, according to the new rules.
The overall impact of all these developments will bring overall ease of doing business for transit trade. The index on transit across the border will also improve due to a drastic reduction in dwell time at ports.
Under the TIR Convention, government has already allowed single transport vehicle owner to transport transit goods. The same facility is now extended to Afghan transit cargo as well. This will help to minimise the monopoly of few bonded carriers.