Lahore - Under-invoicing, which is presently hampering the business activities in the country, cannot be controlled until smuggling is checked at all levels, from the country borders to the retail levels, said Collector Customs (Preventive) Zulfiqar Younas on Thursday. Addressing the Customs officials at a meeting held here at LCCI, he said the Customs department wanted to work with the business community.

Director Intelligence, Customs Lahore Saood Imran invited suggestions from the businessmen for overcoming the issue of smuggling.

LCCI Vice President Nasir Saeed said that smuggling, under invoicing, SRO culture, raids on business premises and undue checking of goods were hampering the business activities; hence adding to the miseries of business community.

“The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) should devise a mechanism in consultation with the business community to overcome these issues within the shortest possible time,” he asserted.

Saeed said that intimidating steps like raids created troubles for the businessmen. LCCI former vice president Kashif Anwar said that traders didn't want to resort to under-invoicing, but were forced to do so in order to compete with the smuggled goods.

“Traders want to pay duties, but how can they compete with smuggled goods?” he queried. “Why pay taxes, when goods are delivered at your doorstep by forwarders,” he said, adding, “Undervalued or miss-declared goods do not increase the profit margin of a trader. Rather many traders import the same product at the same time so that they could compete with each other for the market share.”

Anwar said that under invoicing would not stop until smuggling was stopped. “Why not stop the smuggled goods at borders instead of raiding the markets?” he questioned. He said when rates in the international markets increased, the valuation was done at higher rates, but when the prices were reduced in international markets, the customs authorities considered the highest import rate in the previous three months.

He said it was very unfortunate that instead of widening the tax base and bringing the untaxed sectors into the tax net, steps were being taken to squeeze the existing tax payers. The LCCI former vice president urged the Federal Board of Revenue to resolve the issue of WeBoc system, as it was not working properly and had failed to give the desired results.

Other participants of the meeting also stressed the need for a strategy to get rid of smuggling.

They called for stopping the smuggled goods at borders instead of conducting raids on markets.

Another former LCCI vice President, Aftab Ahmad Vohra, said that important and perishable items should be cleared on the same day.

LCCI Executive Committee Members Amjad Ali Jawa, Mian Zahid Javed former EC members Khawaja Khawar Rasheed, Ashraf Bhatti, Amjad Wazir, Raja Hamid Riaz, Assistant to Chief Minister Anjum Butt, Amin Mazhar Butt, Muhammad Yousaf, Ahsan Saeed Mian and a large number of traders were present on the occasion.