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Customs Central Region & Punjab set up task force to curtail smuggling: Faiz Ahmad

Customs Central Region & Punjab set up task force to curtail smuggling: Faiz Ahmad

LAHORE: In order to curtail smuggling in the region a provincial task force has been set up. Complete lists of the markets and godowns where smuggled goods and articles are dumped have been prepared and under the new strategy smugglers will be intercepted at the provincial borders levels, then inside Punjab, on the roads, in the godowns and markets.

These views were expressed by Customs Central Region Chief Collector Faiz Ahmad while talking to Customs Today the other day.

Faiz Ahmad has vast experience of working at different key posts so he knew it better how to handle these smugglers of face masks who are using coronavirus disaster for their benefit.

Earlier Faiz Ahmad performed his duties as Director IPR Enforcement (Central), Lahore. He also worked as Collector Preventive Lahore where he adopted different measures and introduced strict policies to halt smuggling attempts and increase the revenue for the national exchequer.

He also set up a mobile phone registration system at Allama Iqbal International Airport. He increased the number of facilitation counters at the airport in order to facilitate the passengers, carrying new mobile sets.

He also directed to set up a registration counter at the Customs headquarters and the air freight unit at the airport.  The chief collector of customs informed that the Punjab chief secretary will be the convener while chief collector Co-convener of the task force.

Police and other law enforcement federal and provincial agencies will also be the part of the task forces, he said, adding that Lahore and Multan Collectors will also be included in the task force.  “Lists of the markets and godowns where smuggled goods and articles are dumped have been prepared,” he said, adding that under the new strategy smugglers will be intercepted at the provincial borders levels, then inside Punjab, on the roads, in the godowns and markets.

“This way the cost of doing smuggling will increase forcing the smugglers to opt for legal import”, he said.

Answering a question about COVID-19’s impact on smuggling activities, he replied that COVID-19 and smuggling are adversely related.  With the increase in COVID-19 intensity, smuggling has decreased due the continued contraction in demand due to the lockdown.

However, he said operations have been accelerated in Punjab to eradicate this menace from the region. Due to COVID-19, lots of importers are trying to ‘smuggle’ face masks like N95, KN95 to get benefit of the crisis situation.

Faiz Ahmad said,” We are fully committed to give a huge dent to these efforts in the Central Region and airports of Punjab. All out efforts are being put to catch the smugglers. The central region staff ordered to enforce all preventive measures to halt smuggling of face masks especially from AFUs of the region”.

Talking about the recent anti-smuggling operations he said that the Central Region team has foiled over a dozen of smuggling attempts in Punjab while Customs staff is fully active and working with full commitment.

In an anti-smuggling operation near Zahir Peer, Rahim Yar Khan, the Customs staff of MCC Multan intercepted two 10 wheeler trucks containing smuggled goods concealed beneath layers of coal, Ahmad said, explaining Customs staff with help of local police thwarted the attempt of smugglers.

Customs staff challenged the armed smugglers and forced them to retreat, setting an example for the department, the chief collector explained.

“The trucks were successfully taken to Dryport Terminal Sadiqabad. The smuggled goods contained dried skimmed milk, cigarettes, tyres, betel nuts, panparag, thread and monosodium glutamate, with a total value of Rs 81 million. After lodging an FIR, customs staff has started efforts to catch the smugglers to break their network.” While talking about his tenure as collector Customs Lahore Preventive he remembered Customs Preventive registered nine cases against smugglers during three years and seized huge quantity of non-duty paid goods which include 4,000 kilogram of silk cloth, more than 5 kilogram of gold, huge quantity of non-duty paid foreign origin cigarettes, 3800 kilogram of Indian origin Pan Prag, 6800 mobile phones, 1000 liters of non-duty paid diesel.

Faiz Ahmad said that Customs Preventive recruited many retired and experienced informers to break the network of smugglers. He adopted the policy of zero-tolerance against smuggling mafia which proved very successful.