Gwadar Free Zone gets e-custom, stimulus to businessmen
In order to give a strategic boost to commercial activities, an e-custom clearance system “Web Based One Custom” (WeBOC) has been installed in Gwadar Free Zone. It is a milestone development in the history of Gwadar Port Free Zone consisting of the South Free Zone (Phase I) and the North Free Zone (Phase II).
Now all foreign and local companies already registered or to be registered in Gwadar Free Zone will observe a phenomenal growth of their businesses enjoying paperless, ultra-fast, cost-effective and transparent processes and procedures.
It will be an impetus to foreign investors always asking for the activation of E-custom functionality in Gwadar Free Zone. After fulfilling the prerequisite, foreign investment is highly likely to come, which is desperately needed for the struggling Pakistani economy in the current scenario.
The game-changing e-initiative aims to facilitate companies in Gwadar Free Zone to get integrated with Gwadar Port, customs, NLC, FBR, banking channels and other institutions to increase efficiency and reduce the time taken for processing in various departments.
WeBOC in Gwadar Free Zone will help with the automation, standardisation and harmonisation of all trade procedures and logistic services related to land, air and sea routes under the Pakistan Single Window (PSW).
China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) official said that investors and operators of the Free Zone have hailed the development as a watershed moment in the progress of Gwadar Free Zone. “It will increase the efficiency of consignment processing,” they added.
Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) Chairman Naseer Khan Kashani said that since trade activities have been picking up momentum in Gwadar Free Zone, there is an acute need to put in place a vibrant system of E-Custom to help bolster entire manual business activities. “WeBOC installation in Gwadar Free Zone will put trade management and business administration into high gear,” he added. “It will also pave [the] way for end-to-end logistics solutions,” he mentioned.
A local businessman Agha Hayat said that a large number of government departments and organisations have prescribed multiple “Registrations, Licenses, Certificates and Other permits (RLCOs)” for establishing and operating businesses. Many of these RLCOs envisage cumbersome processing through manual application procedures. The launch of the mega initiative in Gwadar will reduce the compliance burden on businesses, he said. “This will enhance ease of doing business in Pakistan and as a result, it will improve the country’s image and attract foreign direct investment,” Muhammad Ali Baloch, another local businessman said.
A senior official of Collectorate of Customs, Gwadar Custom House noted that Gwadar Port and Gwadar Free Zone are two different entities. Gwadar Free Zone has now been equipped with WeBOC. However, he revealed that in September, the 2019 WeBOC system was rolled out successfully at Gwadar port by the Pakistan Customs. There was the Goods Declaration (GD) system till 2017 which was replaced by the One-Customs system.
Basic features of WeBOC involve a paperless system such as online manifest filing and online payments, 24/7 GD filing (web-based), Risk Management System (Green, Yellow, Red channels), communication with the custodians of goods/port authorities through EDI, online communication with traders and clearing agents. This also includes assessment-based online examination reports and images, First-in, First-out (FIFO) based assessment scheme, an online adjudication process, online decision support tools for customs and trade, stricter controls and checks (complete log of all activities).