Efforts are aimed at creating paperless office environment
By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Feb-25 - Mar- 10, 2002
The Collectorate of Customs (Exports), Karachi, was
established on November 2, 1990. It is the largest exporting station of
the country and handles about 70 per cent of the total export volume.
The magnitude of work has been increasing with the passage of time. To
facilitate the exporters, this Collectorate has taken certain
initiatives towards process re-engineering and modernization of the
existing computer hardware and software.
Currently exports examination is being conducted at
East and West Wharves of Karachi port, Port Qasim, Air Freight Unit (AFU)
and Alhamd International Container Terminal. Whereas processing of
export documents is being done at: West Wharf of Karachi port, Port
Qasim and AFU. Exports Collectorate Karachi also processes the duty
drawback claims filed by the exporters.
The quantum of work at Export Collectorate can be
gauged from number of shipping bills filed in a year. While 443406 bills
were filed in year 1999, the number increased to 472405 in year 2000.
However, the number declined in year 2001 significantly to 312474. The
reason attributed to decline is economic slow down in the country.
However, it is necessary to note that 128989 bills were filed during
July-December period, considered to be a difficult period after
September, 11 attacks and subsequent events taking place in the region.
The processing of bill of export is a cumbersome and
lengthy process. The Collectorate has addressed this issue by
establishing Export Facilitation Centres (EFCs) at four exporting
stations. There are two stations at Karachi port (East Wharf and West
Wharf) and one each at Port Qasim and Air Freight Unit at Quaid-e-Azam
International airport. The documents of export consignments are
processed at these stations after which the goods are examined and
finally loaded on to ships or aircrafts, as the case may be. Under the
EFCs concept almost 90 to 95 per cent of the shipping bills are to be
This has eliminated almost all the eight (8) steps
performed manually in the past. These were: 1) Registration, 2) Machine
numbering, 3) Detachment of E-Forms and other copies, 4) Cash numbering,
5) Appraisement, 6) Counter signature of PA, 7) Bank payment and 8) Out
of Charge etc. Moreover, a profile based selection criteria is to be
implemented for electronic identification of selected cases for
examination. Finally, the bill of export filed and processed under EFC
will, in future, be used for Electronic Duty Drawback generation. Hence
eliminating the need to file a separate Rebate Claim by the exporter.
The exporter will only be required to submit the Bank Credit Advice.
Even this information can also be obtained from the banks electronically
for further facilitation of exporters and relieving them from the hassle
of getting the rebate claim.
The EFC at Air Freight Unit and Port Qasim are fully
functional and have considerably reduced the processing time of bill of
export. The Customs Service Centre at Karachi port is being developed
for the processing of shipping bills. Under the Direct Trader Input
System (DTI) the exporters enjoy the facility to get the shipping bill
processed online. At present this system is fully operational at EFC,
Air Freight Unit. In the first phase some reputed courier companies have
been provided DTI facility for filing of online bill of export. The
Collectorate intends to further extend this facility to exporters
registered under 'Gold Category Scheme' and later on to all exporters.
All the examination sections located at the exporting
stations are not automated except AFU. The manual process has certain
limitations and causes delays in the shipment of export shipments. The
Collectorate is fully aware of the problem and has chalked out a plan to
automate the examination sections of all the exporting stations.
At present processing and sanctioning of duty
drawback claims is not fully automated. A considerable amount of human
and material resources of the Collectorate have been deployed for this.
With the full-fledged working of EFCs at exporting stations, there will
be no need for filing a separate duty drawback claim. These claims will
be generated electronically. However, the proposal of automated
remittance of the duty drawback amounts to bank account of exporter
requires consent from State Bank of Pakistan and National Bank of
The consultants of TEPI project are working on
modernization of Export Collectorate. Upgradation of existing hardware
and software and training of staff is underway to implement the proposed
MIS system. TEPI would assist the Export Collectorate in developing
profile of exporters. It would enhance the control mechanism without the
involvement of physical controls. Statistics Process Control would be
implemented using computers for identifying high risk export
consignments and duty drawback claims for thorough scrutiny.
It is observed that in most of the cases the
information required for making prompt decision is not available and the
credibility of available information is also doubtful. The Collectorate
with the assistance of TEPI is setting up a Management Information
System (MIS) to overcome this problem. The proposed MIS would ultimately
create an atmosphere of paperless office. Furthermore, the MIS would not
only keep track of the status of certain documents but would also help
in monitoring efficiency of staff. This system would also help in
identifying problems related to flow of information. Once a problem area
has been identified it could be dealt with properly and suitably to
resolve the problem.
With the process of re-engineering, many redundant
procedure and process involving shipping bills and payment of duty
drawback have been done away with. Furthermore, a new format of shipping
bill has been introduced at AFU and the same will be introduced at other
exporting stations as well. The Collectorate has conducted a series of
seminars in collaboration with different associations of exporters to
inform them about the rules and procedures of Customs authorities. A
handbook on Export Processing and Examination has been compiled.
The Collectorate has contemplated electronic link
with port authorities, banks, State Bank of Pakistan, shipping lines and
exporters. This system would ultimately lead to the creation of
paperless office environment. All the transactions would be executed
through transfer of data electronically.
Keeping in view the post September 11, 2001 scenario,
the Collectorate took extra measures to facilitate exporters. In this
regard all the rebate groups were given specific directions to clear all
outstanding duty drawback claims by December 31, 2001. The officers and
staff of the Collectorate worked round the clock, even during Ramadan
and Eid holidays to process and approve the claims.
In addition round the clock examination facility was
made available to exporters at all the exporting stations. During the
last days of December 2001, the facility for processing of export
documents was extended round the clock. These measures resulted in
increase of exports.
A number of schemes have been launched for exporters
to obtain duty free raw materials. In this regard a scheme called Duty
and Tax Remission for Exports was introduced on June 18, 2001. Under
this scheme an exporter furnishes an application to the Collector of
Customs alongwith list of goods he intends to export and inputs to be
imported or purchased locally for use in the manufacturing. For
manufacturer-cum-exporter the delivery of inputs is allowed without
payment of any duties and taxes against indemnity bond or post dated
cheques. Commercial exporter has to produce irrevocable bank guarantee.
An exporter may get the goods manufactured from anywhere in Pakistan.
Any purchases of inputs from domestic suppliers by an exporter under
these rules are being zero rated, exempted from payment of sales tax and
In order to resolve the problems faced by exporters
and to facilitate exporters, the Collectorate has constituted an Export
Facilitation Committee which comprises of representatives from various
trade bodies as well as officers from the Collectorate.
The Collectorate has initiated another step to
facilitate the exporters by establishing an EFC at M. I. Yard, West
Wharf, Karachi. Two such centres at AFU and Port Qasim, Karachi are
already functioning. This Centre has started working on February 26,
2002. The objective to establish this Centre is to ensure processing of
export documents under one roof. Under this, exporters/clearing agents
will submit the documents at the Receipt Counter which will affix
machine number and detach necessary documents and hand over the
documents to the clearing agent/exporter for necessary wharfage payments
and related activities. The documents will again be presented at the EFC
counter. The EFC staff will enter all the related documents to the bill
of export into the computer. Duties and taxes will be computed after
necessary verification and validation of data. The clearing
agent/exporter will make the necessary payments at bank. The processing
status of various bill of export will be available to the clearing
agents/exporters on the Status Display Monitors. In addition, this
Centre will also provide the facilities of e-mail, fax, telephone,
photocopier and typing to traders. The automation of processing of
export bills will bring transparency in the system and will also save
time of exporters as well as Customs staff. On top of everything, it
will help in making fiscal policy forthe country.
The Collectorate has also launched its website
recently. It contains up to date information about export
policy/procedures and notifications which will facilitate the exporters
in filing and processing of their shipping bills and rebate claims. The
Exports General Manifest (EGM) will also be available on the website.
This will enable the exporters to have the latest information about
their export consignments. The next phase includes hyperlinks with the
websites of leading exporters and other organizations related to foreign