Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has recommended the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) write to the DG Civil Aviation Authority to make necessary arrangements for outgoing international passengers’ awareness regarding Customs Baggage Rules and permissible amounts of foreign and Pakistani currency.
According to an order issued by the FTO against the customs department, the complaint was filed against the Collector, Collectorate of Customs, Islamabad International Airport (IIAI), Islamabad for the release of the illegally seized amount of £10,000 and to take disciplinary action against the concerned officials of Customs Deptt at IIAI.
FTO has further directed the Member Customs (Ops) to provide a reasonable number of staff to the Collectorate of Customs (IIAP), Islamabad.
DG Pakistan Customs Academy to make arrangements for educating and training the Customs staff posted at all international airports on baggage rules, foreign exchange manual etc. and how to interact with international passengers in a polite manner and provide them information about Baggage Rules and currency limits etc, FTO recommended.
FTO has ordered the Chief Collector of Customs (North) to initiate a fact findings inquiry against the AC Customs (accompanied baggage) and his concerned staff and take necessary disciplinary proceedings under E& D Rules, 2020, against those found guilty.
FTO has further directed the Collector, Collectorate of Customs (IIAP), Islamabad, to make appropriate arrangements for posting and ensuring availability of staff on a 24/7 basis at the Customs currency counter and ASF Scanning Machines in proper Customs uniform.
The FBR should also ensure that CCTV cameras with recording facilities are installed at all Customs counters. FTO has recommended the FBR write to DG Civil Aviation Authority, to make necessary arrangements for outgoing international passengers’ awareness regarding Customs Baggage Rules and the permissible amount of foreign and Pakistani currency through announcements, display on electronic screens and billboards, etc. at different prominent places, parking area and entry hall of IIAP, etc.
Briefly, the Complainant stated that he was traveling to the UK on flight No.BA260. On his first arrival when he reached at ASF counter with his handbag, he asked the official of ASF if he had 10,000 pounds in his pocket and where should he declare the amount, who referred him to the Customs counter.
He informed Ms. Sehrish Nazir, Inspector Customs, regarding the 10,000 pounds in his pocket and wants to declare the same. She took the amount and started blaming me by shouting, “You overseas Pakistanis are familiar with international rules/law very well but today I will teach you a lesson about Pakistani rules/law, and all of your amount i.e. 10,000 pounds will be seized/confiscated”.
Another inspector Qazi started arguments that “you have selected the day (holiday) for travel”.
Farhadullah Khan, Assistant Collector realized that his staff misbehaved/misconducted/misled the Complainant. Furthermore, the Assistant Collector just to cover up his staff blunder directed the Complainant to take a written statement from an ASF representative regarding the declaration of the amount in front of him. The Assistant Collector then left and disappeared from the venue and Inspector Sehrish issued a recovery memo with immediate effect and the Complainant was forced to sign the illegal recovery memo.
FTO said that it is evident that the Complainant has declared the currency at the first point of contact with the first available uniformed staff i.e. at ASF scanning machine, however, in spite of his declaration, the ASF handed him over to the Customs staff, who instead of allowing him to take along the permissible limit of currency as decided by various legal forms and recently by customs appellate tribunal (CAT), Islamabad, detained and seized the whole amount of UK pounds 10,000 and submitted the seizure to the Adjudication Collectorate where two hearings have already been conducted by the Additional Collector (Adjudication) who is the authorized officer to decide this matter, as per law and this forum need not intervene in the adjudication proceedings.
It is established from the above narration of facts that the Customs staff disgraced the Complainant and misbehaved with him which establishes an unreasonable, unjust, and biased approach towards the Complainant as well as neglect, inattention, incompetence, inefficiency and ineptitude in the discharge of duties and responsibilities by AC Customs (accompanied baggage) IIAP and his staff and is tantamount to maladministration under the FTO Ordinance, 2000, FTO order added.