Pakistan Customs on Thursday issued the procedures for importers to file online import form (I-Form) through the online tax system, Web-Based One Customs (WeBOC).
The I-Form is a joint initiative of Pakistan Customs and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to curb under-invoicing and tax avoidance. “This initiative will help in prevention of import related frauds and provide direct interface between customs and banks,” a customs official said.
The I-Form’s filing is now mandatory for importers for subsequent filing of goods declaration and getting the consignment cleared.
Online filing mechanism will be launched as pilot from August 15 and will be functional from September 1. After that, the manual filing of payment details will not be available and the customs authorities will deny clearance of any consignment.
The officials said the electronic import form will be used as a tool to monitor the source of outflows of foreign remittances in order to further strengthen anti-money laundering efforts.
The customs official said traders or clearing agents are required to prepare and file I-Form through WeBOC instead of providing manual details to their banks.
The official said the most important part is the declaration about the foreign exchange transfer. “The wrong declaration will be liable to the punishment under the Foreign Exchange Act, 1947, Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010, Customs Act, 1969 and Pakistan Penal Code 1860,” the official added.
The traders are required to declare that they have no financial or other interest in the export destinations.
The traders are also required to declare that they have not previously obtained any foreign exchange for the mentioned consignment.
In the past, the SBP found that the importers obtained foreign exchange several times for the single consignment.
The central bank also issued the foreign exchange circular two days back for the implementation of I-Form.
A study conducted by the Tax Reform Commission said an estimated three billion dollars worth of under-invoicing or mis-declaration took place in the imports of goods from China.
The study further said the foreign exchange earned by Pakistani expatriates is around $40 billion a year; out of which only half of the amount is remitted through the legal channels.
“The balanced amount is either kept in the foreign countries to cater for the under-invoicing of goods or providing funds to investors and immigrants from Pakistan who are issued visas/permanent residential status,” said the study.