International Customs Day (ICD) is celebrated around the globe on January 26 every year to highlight and recognise the role of customs officials in maintaining border security of each independent state. International Customs Day is an important landmark as this day provides Customs Administration an opportunity to reaffirm WCO’s mission of enhancing its effectiveness and efficiency.
WCO has dedicated 2014 to promoting communication under the slogan “Communication: sharing information for better cooperation.” WCO members will have the opportunity to enhance communication and information sharing practices and mechanisms which they have implemented, within their administration, with ministries and other government agencies, with the trade community and with the general public.
By celebrating this day, Pakistan can learn many lessons from experiences of other member states of World Customs Organization (WCO) as to how they curbed the menace of smuggling, anti-dumping and other crucial issues by enhancing cooperation with each others.
There is also need to remember those who sacrificed their precious lives for the purpose of protecting revenues of the country and spending most part of their life at odd places such as sea, ports and customs check-posts located in hilly and desert regions.
In order to analyze the historical prospective of International Customs Day, it commemorates the day in 1953 when the inaugural session of the Customs Cooperation Council (CCC) was held in Brussels, Belgium. Seventeen European countries attended this session. In 1994 the CCC was renamed as World Customs Organization (WCO) and now customs organizations from 179 countries are WCO members. The WCO provides leadership, guidance and support to Customs administrations to secure and facilitate legitimate trade, realize revenues, protect society and build capacity
Keeping in view geographical location of Pakistan, transit trade is very important aspect for the country and international cooperation can play an important role to ensure its full implementation. The slogan of World Customs Organisation (WCO) is quite important when it comes to Pakistan as under valuation and smuggling continue to plague the country and hamper its economy. Pakistan has been, persistently, requesting to many countries, especially its neighbours, to exchange goods declaration (GDs) in detail so that under-valuation at time of assessment and subsequent imposition of duties could be averted.
More than 40 percent of the total revenue is collected at import stage in Pakistan which necessitates the need for focus upon improving efficiency at border clearing points to augment tax generating efforts. The use of technology and adoption of uniform system at all points of prime important is required urgently. There is also a need for fixing the lingering problems of Web Based One Customs (WeBOC) and to replicate it all over the country.
Although, Pakistani Customs has planned, since long, the establishment of 1,000-strong Border Security Force (BSF) to be deployed at crucial points to curb cross-border trafficking, yet the idea could not be materialised so far, primarily, due to a lack of requisite finance and other vagaries. Under such circumstances, the government should accept demands of the Pakistan Customs and facilitate the authorities concerned by providing them with the wherewithal and other resources in their bids for curbing under-valuation of goods as well as smuggling.