President Dr Arif Alvi has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to apologize and make payment to a citizen whose three imported vehicles were mishandled by Custom.,
The Customs officials wrongly auctioned the vehicles at a low price of around Rs. 3 million without any notice to the complainant, and the Customs Duty paid by him was refunded to some unauthorized clearing agents, who later disappeared with the money.
The president directed FBR to verify all receipts/documents, refund the amount as per the assessed value of the vehicles, and refund the duties/charges paid in favor of importers/owners. He also directed the citizen to provide all documents and reconcile with Customs to enable FBR to make payment within 30 days. He further observed that interest should be added to the payment since the auction money was lying with the exchequer.
The president gave these directions while accepting a representation filed by Iftikhar Ahmed Awan (the complainant) against the orders of the Wafaqi Mohtasib. The complainant had stated that overseas Pakistanis, living in Japan, legally imported three vehicles for the personal use of their families and the freight against the vehicles was paid.
However, FBR didn’t release the vehicles and sold the cars in an auction at a price of Rs. 3,019,385. Feeling aggrieved, the complainant approached Wafaqi Mohtasib, who directed FBR to make payment of sale proceeds of vehicles to owners. The complainant then filed a representation with the president praying that Customs should be ordered to make payment of the sale proceeds of the vehicles at prevailing market rates as well as refund all the duties/charges which were paid.
During the proceedings, it was pointed out that after the completion of all formalities, the ship carrying the vehicles landed at another terminal and the Customs auctioned the vehicles without any notice to the importer, and that the Customs Duty was refunded to unauthorized clearing agents, which resulted in huge financial loss to the importers/owners.
During the hearing, FBR’s representative admitted the fault of the Customs officials in handling the matter due to a lack of communication and system barriers. He said that as per Customs Rules, if the goods were not cleared within 15 days of the date of arrival at a Customs Station, the same could be sold in an auction. He further informed that FBR had initiated disciplinary proceedings against the delinquent officials involved in mishandling the matter and they had also been served a charge sheet in pursuance of the order of the Mohtasib. He added that the licenses of the agents, who disappeared with the money, had also been canceled.
The president said that the citizen was aggrieved by the wrong committed by Customs officials and not due to fault of his own, therefore, his representation was accepted and FBR was directed to refund the amount as per the value assessed, duties/charges paid in favor of importers/owners, and add interest to the payment.
The president concluded that mishandling of the imported vehicles on the part of the Customs was not denied and maladministration had been established. He said that due to the negligence of officials, importers/owners suffered a huge financial loss and mental agony. He added that it was a fact that financial loss occurred due to negligence, lack of communication, and deviation from the established clearing system of the Customs.