One time amnesty to smuggled vehicles

Special Correspondent, Islamabad.

Dec 27, 1999 - Jan 02, 2000

The Central Board of Revenue on Monday issued the procedure for reversion of assessment procedure of cars from single consolidated duty structure under section 18 of the Finance Act 1999 back to the customs tariff. The Board also announced the new procedure for one time amnesty to smuggled vehicles in the same order. This facility will also be available to those owners of cars that have already been confiscated. Owners of such cars will be intimated of their customs duty liability, and be given possession of their vehicle upon proof of payment. Vehicles brought under carnet-de-passage and illegally retained in the country will also be covered by the amnesty scheme.

CBR said the amnesty scheme to regularise the non-duty paid vehicles already plying in the country would be available on one-time basis subject to the condition that duties and taxes are paid by January 31, 2000 without any redemption fine. Vehicles under this scheme will enjoy depreciation facility in terms of CGO 4 of 1993.

According to the new procedure, the smuggled vehicles will be presented to the concerned Assistant Collector of customs or any other officer appointed by the Collector with an application to avail the benefit of this scheme while declaring the specifications and other relevant information about the smuggled vehicle. On receipt of such application, the vehicle will be examined/assessed by the customs staff in accordance with the prescribed procedure and a proper assessment sheet will be prepared. The person concerned will be made aware of the duty and taxes involved in writing. The new procedure provides that the subject vehicle will remain in the custody of the Customs Department till government dues are paid.

Separate record will be maintained for the vehicles assessed under the subject scheme and in those Collectorates where normal import of vehicles and assessment thereof is computerized, the record of the vehicles under this scheme will be maintained in computerized form as well.

In case of those smuggled vehicles which have already been confiscated and right of redemption allowed against payment of fine or outrightly confiscated, assessment of taxes should be made and intimated to the owner if he so requests. The Collectors have been instructed to reopen cases if the taxes are paid by January 31, 2000 in case vehicles in question have not been auctioned or period of limitation under section 195 of the Customs Act has not expired. In case decided by the Collector (Appeals) the Collector will review the case on being approached by the aggrieved person.

The benefit of the scheme would be extended to cases that are pending in the Appellate Tribunal as well. In such cases, the Collectors have been directed to act on an application of the owner of a smuggled car to allow assessment of duty and taxes. If the government dues are paid by January 31, 2000 the Collectorate will inform the Tribunal that the Federal Government has no objection if the Tribunal allows release of the vehicle on payment of duty and taxes without any fine and penalty.

Where Tribunal has already decided the cases and appeals are pending in the High Court, the concerned person will be allowed to pay duties and taxes by January 31, 2000. Upon payment of the duties, the Collectorate would inform the High Court concerned that it would have no objection to the release without payment of fine or penalty as government's dues have already been paid. The Department would also withdraw appeals in such cases after payment of duty and taxes by the person concerned.

In case where vehicle was confiscated and allowed to be redeemed against redemption fine and this decision was also upheld by the Appellate Tribunal, the aggrieved person may get his vehicle assessed, pay duty and taxes by January 31, 2000 and approach the higher forum to seek remedy. The Collectorate will not object to release of vehicle on payment of duty and taxes during hearing in case the duty and taxes were paid till January 31, 2000. Delivery of vehicle in such cases would be given only after a decision by the Tribunal or the High Court concerned.

The depreciation in case of this scheme will be admissible in respect of those vehicles where duty and taxes are paid by January 31, 2000 irrespective of engine capacity in relaxation of relevant provision of Customs General Order No 4 of 1993 dated July 7, 1993.

However, CBR announced the amnesty scheme was not applicable to vehicles which have already been auctioned or released on payment of duty and taxes and fine. The implementation of the scheme will be personally monitored by the Collectors to ensure that Board's instructions on this subject are carried out and proper assessment made by the Customs staff.