KARACHI: Commandant Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) Brigadier Syed Waqar Haider Rizvi has said that ANF’s examination procedure can be expedited if it was given access to WeBOC (Web-based One Customs system) which was being demanded for the last three years but unfortunately, customs authorities were reluctant to give WeBOC access.

“If we get access to WeBOC, it would make things easier for us and minimize the grievances being faced by the business community. Although we have been constantly demanding access to it and Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) must also do the same and take up this matter with higher authorities so that ANF gets WeBOC access which would surely prove favourable for all stakeholders”, he added while speaking at a meeting during his visit to the KCCI.

Deputy Director, Port Control Unit ANF Muhammad Ayub, President KCCI Shariq Vohra, Senior Vice President Saqib Goodluck, Vice President KCCI Shamsul Islam, Chairman Law & Order Sub Committee Junaid ur Rehman, KCCI Managing Committee Members and others attended the meeting.

While referring to inspections being carried out by ANF and customs authorities at the airports, he said that the customs authorities initially carry out the inspection of baggage while ANF staff was the last one to perform the same task at the airport which outrages many passengers as they have to go through the same procedure again. “Hence, we felt it necessary to request customs authorities to jointly carry out the examination with ANF officials so that passengers’ hardships could be minimised but the customs authorities have not taken ANF’s request into consideration.”

Replying to concerns expressed by meeting participants over the unavailability of ANF staff that often delays the examination, he said that majority of the terminal operators and port authorities were unwilling to give space to ANF for setting up a small office which was the basic reason for delays. However, ANF, with a workforce of only 3,000 personnel across Pakistan, was trying its best to deliver within the available limited resources.

“All stakeholders including traders, port authorities, Customs, ANF and Pakistan Coast Guard must sit together to discuss and resolve problems surfacing due to poor repacking after examination”, Commandant ANF said while responding to apprehensions expressed by KCCI members over poor repacking that damages the goods in transit.

He said that ANF was cognizant of the hardships being faced by importers and exporters due to delays in the examination of goods and was trying its best to minimise the grievances by examining the minimum number of containers.

Commandant ANF suggested that KCCI should give a focal person so that the issues faced by its members in dealing with ANF could be swiftly resolved. “Frequent interaction between KCCI and ANF would help in resolving most of the issues”, he said, adding that ANF carries out its activities for the betterment of Pakistan without any compromises.

“We have to work collectively for creating an enabling environment”, he said while extending full support and cooperation to KCCI in promptly dealing with ANF-related issues.”

Speaking on the occasion, President KCCI Shariq Vohra stressed that ANF must focus on improving its perception and has to fully facilitate the business community as in many cases, the Force was being accused of creating hurdles and delaying the clearance procedure.

He was of the opinion that interaction between KCCI and ANF must regularly take place so that the issues can be regularly discussed and amicably resolved. “We are not against ANF activities as they have a major responsibility on their shoulders which is to intercept the influx of drugs and narcotics. Although stringent efforts are needed from all stakeholders to make Pakistan a drugs-free state but, the examination procedure has to be speeded up as at times, delays cause severe losses to the business community.”

The meeting participant raised concerns over delays in examination by ANF which leads to causing losses on account of demurrage, detention, and ungrounding charges. They also suggested that ANF must enhance the workforce and resources while the obsolete scanners at the ports must also be replaced with the latest ones and more scanners must also be installed at all ports in Karachi.

The author is a senior business and economy journalist . He has worked for leading local and international news organisations.

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