LAHORE: Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has directed the tax authorities to expedite setting up Customs laboratories at collectorates.
In its recommendations, the FTO office directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to expedite the task of setting up of customs laboratories in the remaining customs collectorates and upgradation of existing customs labs as per international best practices.
The FBR has also been advised to assign administrative control to Member (Customs) to save the lab officials from local pressures.
The FTO made this recommendations in an own motion investigation initiative to investigate systemic maladministration of the Customs Administration for failing to establish customs laboratories in the Customs Collectorates as per World Customs Organization (WCO) guidelines, besides failure to upgrade the existing customs lab functioning at MCC Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad.
Absence of quality laboratory facilities not only compromise collection of legitimate due government revenue but also put at risk import/export controls, environmental protection, control of dangerous goods.
The FBR responded to the FTO notice that the existing Customs lab at Karachi had been upgraded and more than 95 per cent of items, such as textile fabrics, yarn, chemicals, dyes, petroleum hydrocarbons, pharmaceutical materials and metals etc. are conducted there. “Few samples were, however, forwarded to other labs, like HEJ Research Institute of Chemistry and PCSIR…”
Crux of the investigation is that necessary actions have been initiated by the FBR, after initiation of the investigation, through constituting a committee on June 16, 2021, to examine the proposals for setting up modern Customs labs in the remaining Customs Collectorates as well as upgrading the existing labs as per the best international practices.