A five-member delegation of Saudi Customs Authority visited the Federal Board of Revenue to discuss various matters of mutual interest and assistance. The Saudi delegation was headed by Mr. Muhammad AlNuaim, Deputy Governor of Security Affairs.
The Pakistani side was headed by Mr. Shabbar Raza Zaidi, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue. Mr. Muhammad Javed Ghani, Member (Customs-Policy), Mr. Jawwad Uwais Agha (Member-Operations) and other senior officers of Pakistan customs also participated in the meeting.
Both sides shared their experiences in the law enforcement domain and explored avenues of future cooperation in the following areas:
- Exchange of Information, on a real-time basis, between both countries regarding values of goods originating from both countries.
- Exchange of intelligence based information to effectively control the illicit flow of currency.
- Development of authorized economic cooperation program between both countries.
- Profiling of advance passenger information.
- Cooperation between Saudi Customs and Pakistani Customs in order to arrest the senders and recipients of drugs.
- Exchange of post-seizure and arrest investigations.
- Designation of contact officers for mutual cooperation.
- Capacity building for automation/harmonization of customs procedures.
It was underscored that the menace of narcotics, smuggling, and under-invoicing/over-invoicing are the primary sources of illicit financial flows (IFFs) which is a global phenomenon. It was mutually agreed that no country can cope with these cross border challenges without ensuring international cooperation.
Therefore, both countries need to support each other through international forums as well as Customs to Customs Cooperation under Mutual Assistance Agreements.
Mr. AlNuaim said that the Saudi government values its brotherly relations with the government of Pakistan. He added that the Saudi government has recently introduced new monetary limits on their currency that visitors from Pakistan don’t know yet.
He requested to share this information by launching a public awareness campaign. Mr. Javed Ghani, Member (Customs-Policy) ensured cooperation and said that the control of currency smuggling is one of their main priorities. Therefore, the declaration of currency has now been made mandatory and FBR has taken various legal and administrative actions against currency smuggling.
National Single Window
Mr. Jawwad Uwais Agha shared the details of the National Single Window (NSW) and told the delegates that this initiative provides a complete framework for inter-agency cooperation in Pakistan. The delegation was apprised that at a national level, a Risk-Based Mitigation Strategy (RBMS) has been evolved after taking input from all stakeholder agencies including Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Anti Narcotics Force, Airport Security Force, and Pakistan Customs.
Under RBMS, a totally new institutional apparatus has been set up with a dedicated directorate, namely, Cross Border Currency Movement (CBMC) within the Directorate General of Customs Intelligence & Investigation to address the risks of cash smuggling. This measure was very successful as in FY 2018-2019 total Rs. 487 million were seized thanks to intelligence sharing compared to Rs. 157 million rupees in FY 2017-2018.
The Saudi delegation appreciated these efforts and showed a keen interest in the project of National Single Window, National Targeting Centre and Advance Passenger Information Systems (APIS). Both sides unanimously agreed that there is potential for better cooperation between both countries which will help them address a wide range of problems originating from currency smuggling, narcotics, and misdeclarations.