Containers’ clearance for import, export: $160m software to interlink 48 ministries

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank’s country director Illango Patchamuthu on Tuesday raised objections over proposed establishment of another public sector entity to run online based National Single Window (NSW) for clearance of containers for import and export purposes.

Chairman FBR Shabbar Zaidi accepted the objections raised by Country Director of WB and stated that the track record of state owned entities were not good in Pakistan but the major problem for the FBR was finding out capable workforce for public sector. “We will put in place hybrid system to come up with good solutions on NSW”, he added.

With funding of $160 million, the FBR is developing software for provision of connecting 48 ministries, divisions and regulators for clearance of goods at entry and exit points. This new system will be in place by 2021. The biggest challenge for the FBR’s Customs department is to convince 48 ministries/divisions and regulators to re-engineer their process and convince them to share this new system.

“The government wants to come up with good governance and e-governance for achieving least interaction for the purpose of tax collection,” Chairman FBR Shabbar Zaidi said on the occasion of giving briefing to selected reporters and representative of international partners about NSW here on Tuesday.

Chairman FBR said that Pakistan decided to go for the e-governance system on a very urgent basis under the government’s policy decision of implementing National Single Window Project for importers/exporters.

He said that keeping in view circumstances of Pakistan, we have to be quicker in implementing systems patricianly customs clearance processes. The general perception of the investors (which is not true) is a lot problems arise from documentation and paperwork in the country. There are certain notions, which have been created or perceived due to these systems.

The FBR’s Customs has launched WEBOC-Global in Karachi last week. All customs processes like GD filing could be done from home with least interaction with the customs people, he said.

Imran Mohmand Project Director NSW informed that Pakistan Custom is the lead agency for NSW implementation under the supervision of a high level Steering Committee currently chaired by the Adviser on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs.

The NSW is a quantum jump from the current silo and paper based management of Pakistan’s external trade involving 44 different government departments responsible to regulate different aspects of imports, exports and transit trade. The current system being inefficient and opaque creates complications for traders and economic operators leading to increased costs and delays as well as lax government’s controls in carrying out cross border trade. As per World Bank’s report on ease of doing business the business community in Pakistan incurred more than 400 million USD extra cost as compared to the average cost for imports and exports in South Asia region, during the last one year As a result competitiveness of Pakistan to facilitate trade, attract investment, get integrated into global value chains and be a regional hub for trade and transit is seriously undermined.

The good news is that as tie leading agency for NSW implementation, Pakistan Customs has not only made substantial progress on NSW implementation but is also successfully improving cross border trade facilitation.

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