Pakistan Customs (Urdu: پاکستان کسٹم) is one of the elite cadres of the Civil Services of Pakistan. It is serving as the guardian of Pakistan's borders against movement of contraband goods and encourage bona-fide trade. It provided a major source of revenue to the Government of Pakistan in the form of taxes levied. It also helps to protect the domestic industry and stimulates the trade.
Pakistan Customs is manned by officers from the Pakistan Customs Service (PCS) which is one of the premier occupational group among Pakistan's civil services. Previously known as the “Customs & Excise Group”, it re-classified as Pakistan Customs Service (PCS) in November 2010, when the responsibilities of Sales Tax & Federal Excise were taken away and a new occupational service created to collect Sales Tax, Federal Excise and Income Tax, named as Inland Revenue Service (IRS).
It has given the PCS officers a break to focus on their core function of guarding the nation’s borders against smuggling, illegitimate trade and money laundering. The role of Pakistan Customs Service has been greatly enhanced as a law enforcement agency with focus on border control.
The anti-smuggling powers delegated previously by Pakistan Customs to Pakistan Rangers, Police, Frontier Constabulary and Levies are withdrawn in view of expansion of Pakistan Customs role in border regions. The shift in the role of Pakistan Customs to a Border Control Agency with substantial responsibility in safe-guarding country’s trade policies, intellectual property rights, transit trade, anti money laundering, anti smuggling is what appears to be the future of Pakistan Customs Service.
Pakistan Customs Service, also has the jurisdiction in the sea and operates in 200 nautical miles (370.4 km; 230.2 mi) called Pakistan Customs Waters to prevent smuggling activities independently and also carries out join operations with Pakistan Coast Guard and Pakistan Maritime.
Ranks in Pakistan Customs Service
Member Customs/ Chief Collector (North/South/Central)
- Collector of Customs
- Additional Collector of Customs
- Deputy Collector of Customs / Assistant Collector of Customs
- Superintendent of Customs / Superintendent of Intelligence & Investigation / Superintendent of Preventive Services/ Principal Appraiser
- Deputy Superintendent of Customs/ Senior Intelligence Officer/ Inspector Preventive Services/ Appraising officer
- Inspector of Customs/ Intelligence Officer/Senior Preventive Officer / Examining Officer
- Office Superintendent
- Wireless Operator
- Head Clerk
- Upper Division Clerk (UDC)
- Lower Division Clerk (LDC)
- Head Constable/ Hawaldar/ Kot Gusht
- Constable / Sepoy
The origin of an organized Customs Department in the Indo-Pak Sub-Continent can be traced to 1878 when maritime Customs operations were sought to be institutionalized by Her Majesty’s Crown under the Sea Customs Act.
In 1901, Karachi was declared as the Chief Port of Sindh. In the following year, a plan was instituted to build permanent offices for the port and Customs officials at Karachi. The task was entrusted to Mr. G. Willet, the consulting architect to the Government , who designed the new building as a semi-circular structure in the Victorian tradition. The construction of the building commenced in 1912 and culminated in 1914. The first meeting of KPT and Customs was held in that building on 12 January 1916.
After independence in 1947, the Sea Customs Act, 1878 continued to be the legal framework for Customs operations in Pakistan. However, the need for a new Customs legislation was felt all along. The task of developing the new legislation was undertaken in 1966, by the First Secretary of the Central Board of Revenue and the Customs Act, 1969 was promulgated on 20 June, 1968.
History of Automation
Federal Board of Revenue (previously Central Board of Revenue) established a company for automation, namely Systems Limited in 1988. Processing was completed on IBM system-34 machine. There were standalone systems in every Collectorate. Goods Declaration (then called B/E - bill of entry) was submitted and a machine number was allocated manually. For this purpose a register was maintained. Data, regarding value was used to be given by the computer operator in the form of an assessment sheet (at this stage some customs brokers managed to get values of their choice as values could be maneuvered by the computer operator). The print out of the sheet was attached with the bill of entry (B/E) and sent to the group in routine. After completion of B/E and out of customs charge, manual feeding in the computer system was done by KPOs of Computer Bureau through batch processing.
In December, 1992 computer processing (online processing) of bill of entries was started in Appraisement Collectorate. Between 1992 and 1999 feeding of hard copies of B/Es in the computer was done by the KPOs of import section. A running number was allocated to B/Es by the computer, which was manually affixed on the B/E. Assessment was used to be made in the relevant groups and simultaneously entry was recorded in the computer. The system automatically calculated duty. A batch of eight bills of entry was forwarded to the bank with a summary. The bank verified that summary with pay orders which they received. Account section was responsible to make consignments out of customs charge after satisfying that all the taxes and duties are paid in the national exchequer.
Pakistan Revenue Automation (Pvt.) Limited (PRAL)
In June 1994 a new company, owned by Federal Board of Revenue, was established namely Pakistan Revenue Automation (Pvt.) Limited (PRAL) and was incorporated. It took over the earlier company, Systems Limited, in December 1996. The head office was located at 14, Hill Road, F-6/3 Islamabad, Pakistan. As far as I recollect Federal Board of Revenue allocated a budget of Rs. 700 million for PRAL in 2013-14. The purpose of PRAL was to develop in-house soft wares for customs and income tax departments. 1250 persons are employed, out of which 283 are working on customs side and rest on indirect taxation side (income tax and VAT).
In 1996, PRAL purchased a new IBM machine AS-400. To facilitate traders, service centers were started during 1999 in Appraisement Collectorate and then at Port Qasim and Airport, Karachi. Subsequently these were also introduced at some dry ports (ICDs). Processing of B/E was started with feeding of data at service center by 11 computer operators. After that a number was allotted by a small printer. GD processing fee was charged @ Rs. 55/entry between 9 am to 10 am, Rs. 65 between 10 am to 3 pm and Rs. 300 after 3 pm. In 2000, traders started to bring data on floppy discs which were uploaded at service centers. As a result, long queues were minimized to a manageable size.
PaCCS—Pakistan Customs Computerized System
The objective of Customs reform process was to enhance organisational efficiency of Pakistan Customs, transform it into a modern organisation performing its functions as per best practices and international standards. As the clearance of international cargo is the core Customs function and so the best method to measure the efficiency of a Customs organisation is to measure its dwell time.
In the developed countries the dwell times are typically measured in minutes. In the developing countries the dwell time is generally higher and measured in days, owing to numerous factors such as incomplete data base, parallel paper records, complex laws and procedures, weakness of institutions, an underdeveloped work force, lack of automation, low salaries, and low investment in research and development.
All these problems were being faced by the Pakistan Customs Administration. A need was therefore felt to revamp and revolutionise the whole system using information Technology and business process reengineering.
PACCS is one integrated system covering all activities and processes relating to customs.
THE SYSTEM HAS THE FOLLOWING KEY FEATURES:
ONE WINDOW OPERATION: Clearance of cargo from the port over the web without requiring declarants to leave the comfort of their office anywhere within or outside Pakistan.
High speed clearance of cargo within hours of the arrival of the vessel on 24 hours a day and seven days a week basis.
Self-assessment of duties and taxes if any, and discharge the same before filing a declaration to Customs.
Online status notification of cargo clearance.
Sanction of duty drawback online and immediately on sail of the vessel.
Electronic filing and sanction of refunds.
Hassle free and selective examination on risk management basis.
Manifest information online.
Secure examination and assessment environment.
It is compatible with CSI and ISPS.
No un-receipted expenses.
The above effects are being achieved by optimum use of information technology. In IT terminology, PACCS has an expert decision support system.
THE FOLLOWING ARE THE BASIC FEATURES:
It covers the entire spectrum of Customs activities.
Except in external communications with certain institutions like the courts, a completely paperless environment is envisages. All documents are system generated without the need for manual signatures by the department.
All data is formatted and is upgraded only through specific and dedicated input points. At client-end the data input is through drop-down menus and codes, thus, eliminating data input errors.
All data exchange with regular stakeholders is electronic.
All data is handled as per international codes (ISO codes) and standards of the WCO Customs Data Model.
All business processes and their linkages have been written down, RSD developed and catered for in the new system. Any changes at any level in the business process cycle can be upgraded in the system.
All workflows pass through the channels specified by the system and as per the requirements of the business processes.
The system has inbuilt performance evaluation. Performance evaluation reports for groups as well as individuals can be generated.
The system has built in accountability mechanism, since every action is logged and each user is identified by the system through his user name and PIN code.
All measures are taken to ensure the security of the system and its data; mirroring, backups, system logs, access controls through software and hardware, firewall, concealed cables, uninterruptible power supplies etc.
Built in service standards with alarms generated at appropriate levels in cases of lapse of envisaged standards.
The organisational structure has been designed to ensure a uniform and standardised structure with no duplications and overlapping and a clear chain of command and responsibility. A comprehensive system of rewards and compensation based on performance is being formulated to get optimum results from work force.
CARE involves the replacing of the current mix of a personalised system of manual and electronic processes with an integrated and automated cargo clearance system that meets current and future challenges facing the trading community and the tax administration.
Conceptualization of WeBOC
The conceptualization of a new home grown system was started few years back by the department. The new software was named e-Customs. The basic modules of GD filing, examination, clearance and associated jobs were tested. Two customs clearing agents were selected who volunteered to file some Goods Declarations (GD) through the new system. At that time machine number was allocated on filing of GD. Some processes were completed manually, as well. Besides testing the system, actual clearance was made on hard copy of GD after manual checking.
Later, FBR constituted a team of customs officers to review this software. The team identified some basic flaws in new software with reference to customs law and business processes on ground. However, the officers showed reservations and recommended improvements.