The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to ensure that the Model Customs Collectorates (MCCs) must not discriminate against competitors or any importer/exporter of vehicles specifically importers from China.
The FTO has issued an order against the Customs department where a case of discrimination has been witnessed among the importers of vehicles.
The FTO order said that the complainant imported a consignment of 10 buses. Out of these, four buses had been released on the basis of the declared value, however, the remaining six buses had not been released. No written explanation had been provided as to why these buses were not being released and no justification had been given. Despite the lapse of 19 days and accrual of Rs. 54,000 per day as demurrage without any reasons in writing, the department was refusing to release the complainant’s buses despite repeated requests. The department was proceeding with mal-intent and bad faith against the complainant at the behest of its competitor.
The FTO stated that the department’s actions for assessing the buses at higher rates only relying on export documents and without any cogent reasons are illegal and without lawful authority. It is observed that the department cannot rely upon export documents for assessment purposes especially when these documents are still subject to verification although such documents do not pertain to the current consignment, or subject matter of the instant case, but relate to previous consignment.
Apparently, the complainant has genuine grievances particularly when the exporter has verified the contents of the invoice submitted to the Customs Department and four buses were assessed and released on declared transacted value after necessary verifications and inquiry by the Collectorate but the remaining six buses were detained without any cogent/explicit reason and remained detained till the filing of the instant complaint and released provisionally at a higher rate on the basis of unverified export documents that are still in the process of authentication from exporter/Chinese authority which proved the malafide intention on part of the departmental officials, FTO declared.
The final assessment of 13 buses is also time-barred under Section 81 of the Customs Act, 1969. Departmental actions amount to maladministration in terms of Section 2(3) of the FTO Ordinance 2000. As the delay in the release of buses/goods was not on the part of the complainant, the department should issue a delay and detention certificate to the complainant.
FTO has directed the FBR to direct the Chief Collector, Collectorate of Customs (Appraisement)-South to issue instructions to the subordinate Collectorates to adopt the procedure as laid down in Act/Rules/Regulations and not to discriminate against any importer/exporter on one pretext or the other.
FBR will also direct the Collector, Collectorate of Customs (Appraisement) East, Custom House, Karachi to revisit the assessment made in the remaining six buses, without any cogent reasons and assess the same afresh on the basis of declared value/import data, strictly in accordance with the law.
The FBR should also direct the Collector, Collectorate of Customs (Appraisement)-East, Custom House, Karachi to revisit the assessment made in the previous 13 buses which were time-barred under Customs Act, 1969, and decide afresh on declared import value data, strictly in accordance with the law. FBR should also issue a delay and detention certificate to the complainant, FTO order added.