Customs to launch web-based system for cargo clearance in July
By Kalbe Ali
KARACHI: The customs department has designed a web-based system for speedy clearance of all consignments that will not only facilitate importers and exporters but the shipping agents and the shipping companies as well, customs officials said here Friday.
The system, known as Customs Administrative Reform (CARE), is an in-house initiative of the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) to transform the customs department into a service oriented, modern and efficient organization, they said and added the system is expected to implement from July this year.
“CARE offers a completely computerised, paperless working environment for importer or exporter and the customs department,” said Azher Majeed Khalid, project director CARE.
He said a central CARE department would be established at the Karachi customs house which would have more than 300 computers to operate a complete web-based operations for imports and exports at all ports including the dry ports of the country.
Mr Khalid said initially CARE department would be launched as a pilot project at Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT) for a period of at least six months and added that it would be launched from KICT not only because the terminal caters about 35 percent of all imports and exports cargoes but also the KICT is a fully automated terminal service.
“The importers and exporters can obtain their CARE pin-code after online enlisting through their NTN and STRN number,” he said and added importers and exporters can also pay their dues through online billing option.
Customs officials said main benefit of the new system would be that documents and signatures are not required and all the documentation can be done 24-hour prior to the arrival of the shipment.
Under the system, documents will only be asked for risk profiles cargos and the whole system will be one-window clearance, with the option of filing declarations over the web.
But Mr Khalid said to ensure that safety and security regulations are observed only sealed shipping containers from exporters will be accepted and the containers indicated through risk profiles will be examined. He said new system will be supported by legislative and administrative changes allowing businessmen to exercise greater freedom of choice to what degree they want to interact with customs officials.
Shipping Agents optimistic: Shipping agents are optimistic that the new system would not only save their time but would also curtail physical movement of shipping documents.
“Clearance of documents before arrival of the ship will lead to faster clearance of ships that will result in less port congestion,” said Muhammad Rajpar, former secretary of the Pakistan Shipping Agents Association.
To ensure the success of the new system, the customs department has held different meetings with all the stakeholders including importers, exporters, customs agents and Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).
KCAG apprehensive: But the customs agents group has expressed some apprehensions over the success of new initiative.
“Though the automated system sounds good, the flaws and operational problems will only be visible after it is implemented,” said Sultan Mehmood, president Karachi Customs Agents Group (KCAG).
He said the system seems more workable for multinational national firms, which have an organised system of working and added only time would prove if it suits small importers and exporters.
Customs officials said scope of the new system will gradually be enhanced to other automated container terminals like the Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT) and Al-haq International Container Terminal (AICT).
“It is expected that after one year the CARE system will be implemented at all the ports including dry ports of the country,” said Mr Khalid.