The Customs Department has auctioned thousands of abandoned containers, lots, and consignments valued at Rs. 3 billion in the last over four years.
This was revealed in a meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) with Finance Minister Asad Umar in the chair. The customs department has auctioned over 3,000 containers and around 18,000 lots in the past over four years.
Furthermore, over 3,000 lots were disposed of in the said period. Whereas, around 5000 containers and more than 6000 lots stand at the port awaiting clearance, as on January 1, 2019.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) also shared a report with the committee during the meeting. The report divulged the current status of the auction of abandoned containers/lots.
The board also explained in detail the procedures for disposal/clearance of consignments at ports while identifying the challenges arising in the process.
The Section 82 of the Customs Act 1969 states that goods that have not been removed from the port areas within 20 days of their arrival have to be auctioned with prior notice to the owners or the carrier, customs, or shipping agent or the custodian of goods.
FBR officials also revealed that the customs and other terminal operators (TOs) face ‘congestion’ issues at the ports. They said that the imported consignments do not get cleared by the importers because either the consignment is not according to the importer’s requirements or there are delays in the completion of importer’s certifications/conditions.
Other reasons include consignments’ stay on the port exceeding the free storage period, business disputes, and confiscation through the adjudication process.
FBR further said that the solution to address the ‘congestion’ issue lies in the e-auction management system. This system will ensure an expeditious and transparent process for the disposal of the abandoned goods, said the board officials.
The ECC formed a committee to chalk out proposals for efficient and immediate cargo clearance at the ports. The committee, headed by Maritime Affairs minister, will share the proposals in two weeks.