‘Pakistan Customs: The guardian of economic border of Pakistan’
Q. Now that Pakistan Customs has entered in to the age of Digitisation, how is Pakistan Customs coping up with the rapid developments?
A. Pakistan Customs has been at the forefront of all public sector organisations in Pakistan when it comes to automation and adoption of technology. We have gone through rigorous business process re-engineering leading to fewer steps required in our day to day processes bringing ease of doing business with us and at the same time creating transparency.
We have used automation for better controls without compromising facilitation of trade. When the manual system was in vogue it took dozens of steps to complete a Goods declaration and it took days to get the goods cleared. After adoption of automated procedures almost 35% of cargo is cleared with minutes and nearly 65% cargo is cleared same day by Pakistan Customs. This has been made possible by first implementing PaCCS back in 2004 and subsequently making WeBOC since 2011, our indigenously made automated Customs clearance system. We are also in the process of developing Advanced Passenger Information System in collaboration with IATA for passenger profiling at the airports. Needless to say we have adopted digitisation with open arms.
Q. CPEC has already got the attention of half of the world, what is going to be its impact on Pakistan Customs?
A. Pakistan Customs is the guardian of the economic borders of Pakistan therefore it will be at the forefront when it comes to CPEC. The movement of cargo will be handled and monitored by Pakistan Customs using its automated system and well trained staff to make sure all CPEC cargo gets priority and is handled in the most professional manner. Up-gradation of Sost border Customs station and GwadarCustoms station is well underway and with the roll out of WeBOC system at these stations we are confident CPEC cargo will be handled properly. I would like to add that Pakistan customs has devised a long term strategy for enhancing border trade with all our neighbours. In this regard FBR has embarked on the implementation of ITTMS a very forward looking project which will bring all the border managing agencies under one roof in an automated environment. Initially these modern Border centers will be created at Torkham, Chaman and Wagha with initial investment of US300 million, surely ITTMS will be extended to other border Customs stations including Sost and Gwadar. Implementation of CPEC will result in the creation of more dry-ports across the country, creation of Special Economic Zones, expansion of Marine enforcements and this will result in an overall expansion of Customs as an organisation.
Q. The theme for the International Customs Day this year is “Data Analysis for Effective Border Management”. How is Pakistan Customs planning to show its participation?
A. As always Pakistan Customs will celebrate International Customs Day with fervour and zeal. All Customs stations will be celebrating Customs Day by conducting our traditional events such as flag hoisting and parade at all Customs stations, destruction of liquor and other contrabands and awarding performance certificates and awards to officers and staff, holding of seminars and issuance of supplements in leading newspapers of the country. Going with the theme this year we will highlight how Pakistan Customs has adopted automation and usage of data analysis in cargo clearance. We have adopted data analysis for risk profiling and better assessment and examination of cargo. Decreasing dwell time and increasing revenue collection is a testament to our effective and efficient usage of data.
Q. How does Pakistan Customs deal with mass amounts of shipments?
A. Trade volumes have been increasing annually and the trend seems to stay strong in the coming years. Efficient Customs administration is essential for handling the increased trade and Pakistan Customs has evolved with the requirements of the times by adopting automation for clearance of cargo and facilitating international terminal operators to put up state of the art terminals. Dubai Port World and Hutchinson’s are some of the leading port operators of the world which also handle cargo in Pakistan. Pakistan Customs has introduced risk profiling to examine a limited number of containers unlike previously when there was 100% examination, similarly risk profiling is used in clearance of almost 35% cargo through the green channel resulting in clearance of cargo within minutes. Pakistan customs staff is available round the clock 24/7 seven days a week at ports for expediting clearance of cargo.
Q. Any message on the International Customs Day?
A. I congratulate profoundly all customs administrations in general and Pakistan Customs Service in particular on this august International customs Day and take an opportunity to remind the Pakistan Customs of the challenges in the discharge of its duties in the massively globalized world. I would further emphasise that globally the Customs administrations are moving from the role of revenue collection to enforcement to the extent of including security diversion as well, we in Pakistan need to transform Pakistan Customs role to gradual and greater enforcement. Let’s work towards that end.