FTO Orders Investigation Against Customs Officers Mistreating Used Car Importer

Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) on Wednesday directed the Chief Collector of Customs (North) to conduct a fact-finding inquiry into this non-professional attitude of the customs officers resulting in hardship for the importer of a used/old imported vehicle.

The complaint was filed under Section 10(1) of the Federal Tax Ombudsman Ordinance, 2000 (FTO Ordinance), against the Collectorate of Customs, Islamabad, against non-clearance of Goods Declaration (GD) dated 19.07.2022 and to take disciplinary action against the concerned officers.

The FTO was surprised to hear the viewpoint of the FBR that The DR and PRAL representatives submitted that the department could not process the GD due to technical hitches involved in the electronic clearance system and Complainant may deposit once again an amount of Rs. 61 million (approx.) deposited earlier and only then the GD would be processed out of charge.

The FTO order said that the Complainant has alleged in his complaint that a vehicle Bentley Continental Flying Spur W12, Model 2020, was imported by the importer and GD along with all documents under Section 79 of the Customs Act, 1969 (the Act) were submitted for assessment and examination which was duly done under Section 80 ibid. The duty and taxes were assessed to the tune of Rs. 134,252,271/-.

An amount of Rs. 73,029,971/- was paid and a pay order dated 19.10.2022 for the differential amount equal to Rs. 61,222,300/- was submitted to the Collectorate for provisional release of the vehicle in terms of Section 81 of the Act.

The Department encashed the pay order on 30.11.2022 manually, but the GD filed was neither processed nor finalized, which is clear maladministration on the part of the department. The time period for finalization of the provisional assessment provided in terms of Section 81(2) of the Act, is only ninety days. Whereas, in the instant case, it has been more than a year.

The complainant has approached the Deptt many times for the process of the GD, however, to date the same has borne no fruit, the Deptt failed to entertain the Complainant and has repeatedly failed to clear and finalize the GD till to date which is clear maladministration on behalf of the Deptt in terms of Section 2(3)(i)(a),(b),(d) and (3)(i) of the FTO Ordinance, 2000.

The Complainant has carried out no procedural lapse nor has he violated any law, he has done everything to ensure conformity with the Customs authorities, However, the department, due to negligence and malafide, has failed to clear the GD, due to which the Complainant is suffering and inter alia is unable to get proper registration of the Vehicle.

According to the findings of the FTO, in view of supra, it is established that the department has encashed the pay order of Rs. 61,222,300/- in violation of provisions of Section 81(3) of the Act, without any lawful authority and without any justification while keeping the clearance of GD in pendency, which is tantamount to maladministration on part of the Deptt as defined under Section 2(3)(O)(a)(b),(i) of the FTO Ordinance, 2000.

FTO has asked to resolve the subject matter within 15 days;

The FTO has further directed the Chief Collector of Customs (North), Islamabad to conduct a fact-finding inquiry into this non-professional attitude of the concerned officers resulting in hardship for the taxpayer and in light of the findings of the above fact-finding inquiry, take corrective measures, interalia, imparting necessary WeBOC training to the concerned officers! staff of the Collectorate and report compliance within 45 days.

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