In order to improve Pakistan’s international trade, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has kicked off the soft launch of the Pakistan Single Window Programme (PSWP) with the intention of launching it officially in a couple of months, revealed PSWP Project Director Muhammad Imran Khan Mohmand.
During an online seminar organised by the Central Standing Committee on Customs of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and the FBR, FPCCI President Nasir Hayat Maggo said, “If it is implemented properly, it will be a dream-like situation in a country like Pakistan.” PSWP would connect 74 departments that regulated imports and exports and engaged in documentation, FPCCI’s Central Standing Committee on Customs Head Shabbir Mansha Churra told The Express Tribune.
It would connect the Web-based One Customs (WeBOC) system with the Customs, banking channels and other institutions to increase efficiency and reduce the time taken for processing in various departments, he elaborated.
“This will enhance ease of doing business in Pakistan and as a result it will improve country’s image and attract foreign direct investment.”
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Making a presentation, Mohmand said that international trade was the driver of economic growth in Pakistan and it had a huge potential for transitional trade.
“Pakistan has an important geostrategic location and it can become a regional trade hub, however, the current system to manage international trade comes with many difficulties,” he added.
“The implementation of National Single Window system by 2022 is also a commitment under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement,” he said. Last year, 2.4 million containers were traded for either imports or exports.
Licences, permits and other documents issued for imports or exports not only took time but also cost money, which was paid by businessmen, the project director added.
An import container in Pakistan bears a cost of $417 and takes 216 hours in the regulation process.
In comparison, India incurs a cost of only $366 and takes 85 hours to clear the same container, while South Korea clears the container in only seven working hours and bears a cost of $342.
When the container is exported, it costs $406 and takes 113 hours in Pakistan in comparison to $64 and 207 hours in India and $196 and 14 hours in Korea. “This cost is so high regionally and internationally that it hampers our trade with other countries,” Mohmand said.
Maggo emphasised that the real test of National Single Window system depended on its performance, which would be judged based on actual reduction in costs and time taken for imports and exports.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2021.