LAHORE: Pakistan Customs impounded nine very expensive vehicles that were imported by foreign diplomats — including an ambassador — but were in the use of private persons during the last three weeks, sources stated.
Mercedes Benz, Lexus LX570, BMW X7 series, Land Cruiser ZX, Nissan X Trail, Toyota Crown and others were imported duty-free by availing diplomatic exemptions and handed over to private persons without fulfilling legal and regulatory requirements.
This has not only caused a Rs250-million revenue loss in nine cases but also put the security of other diplomats at risk due to the use of fake or duplicate diplomatic number plates, the sources said .
The issue is also in the knowledge of the Foreign Office, and it has sought answers from at least two foreign missions, the sources said.
However, this is not for the first time that the Foreign Office has been informed by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) about the breach of the diplomatic privileges.
In the last almost one year, Pakistan Customs has confiscated at least 16 very expensive vehicles, including nine in July alone that were imported in the names of diplomats but had been in the possession of private persons, according to the FBR official record.
At the prevailing taxes and duty rates, the estimated tax evasion in the 16 cases is Rs444.6 million, which also indicates how pricey the vehicles are.
If a luxury vehicle is imported through normal channels, it is subject to 100% customs duty, 70% regulatory duty, 7% additional customs duty, 30% federal excise duty, 17% sales tax and 12% withholding tax, bringing total taxes to 236% of the import value of the vehicle.