4 April 2021 – ISLAMABAD
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has allowed integrated operators, warehouses, authorised couriers, ground handling agents, freight forwarders and logistics service providers to register as Authorised Economic Operators (AEOs) for obtaining benefits including trade facilitation, speedy clearance of imports and exports consignments, and timely payment of refunds/duty drawback to the holders of such certificates.
The FBR has issued SRO 378(I)/2021, on Saturday, to amend Customs Rules 2001.
According to the revised rules, the FBR has expanded the scope of the AEOs.
The FBR will issue gold, platinum, and silver certificates to the AEOs for providing them a wide range of benefits. The status of the AEOs was available to manufacturers, importers, exporters, customs house clearing agents, brokers, shipping lines, carriers, consolidators, intermediaries, ports operators, airports operators, airlines, custodians or terminal operators, stevedores.
Now the same benefits of the AEOs under the gold, platinum and silver certificates would now also be available to the integrated operators, warehouses, authorised couriers, ground handling agents, freight forwarders, and logistics service providers.
The FBR has also directed all port authorities or terminal operators shall provide, in accordance with applicable law such suitable facilities and arrangements for AEO certificate holders as directed by the Regulatory Collector.
Under the amended rules, the AEOs having platinum status could avail the facility of deferred payment of duty and taxes will be provided in such manner that all duty and taxes payable in a month shall be paid within that month by the last day of the month in which the clearance was made, otherwise, AEO holder shall pay surcharge at the rate of three percent plus KIBOR from date of clearance of goods, and shall be liable for action deemed appropriate by the regulatory Collector under the applicable law, which may include the suspension or revocation of the AEO status.
Under the eligibility to apply for AEO certificate, the FBR stated that any entity involved in the international supply chain that undertakes Customs-related activity in Pakistan can apply for AEO status.
The authorised economic operator or AEO means a certified entity, which fulfills the security criteria and other laid down obligations and derives benefits as prescribed under these rules.
The benefits for gold status included priority placement/front line of treatment shall be accorded under WeBOC module for all processes including assessment, examination and scanning to ensure shorter cargo release time; facility of Direct Port Delivery (DPD) of their import Containers and or Direct Port Entry (DPE) of their Export Containers would be available.
A special space shall be earmarked at port or terminal area for handling AEO containers for speedy clearance, and ID cards to be granted to authorised personnel for hassle-free entry to Custom Houses, terminals, off-dock terminals, and dry ports and wherever feasible, they will get separate parking space and sitting/waiting area earmarked in Custom Houses, terminals, off-dock terminals, dry ports etc.
In case, they are required to furnish a Bank Guarantee, the quantum of the Bank Guarantee would be 50 percent of that required to be furnished by an importer and exporter who is not an AEO Certificate Holder; and will provide PDC or corporate guarantee for the remaining 50 percent and they will not be subjected to regular transactional PCA, instead of that onsite entity-based PCA will be conducted.
They will be allowed 24/7 clearances on request, if required, at all customs clearance stations.
In case, where laboratory analysis is required for assessment purposes, the sample from AEO consignment shall be retrieved and consignment shall be released provisionally except for agricultural goods; and the duty drawback claims filed through Customs computerised system along with Bank Credit Advice (BCA) shall automatically be placed at top of the queue and processed on priority.
The refund claims of Sales Tax and Federal Excise Duty, after submission of complete documents, shall be processed on priority.
The benefits for platinum status may be provided over and above the benefits offered in, Gold category.
They shall get trade facilitation by a foreign Customs administration with whom Pakistan enters into a mutual recognition agreement or arrangement.
In case, they are required to furnish a Bank Guarantee/pay order, the AEO Certificate Holder may provide Post Dated Cheque or corporate guarantee for the required amount.
They shall be given choice of location for control and clearance (on-site inspection and examination) of goods at the premises of the authorised economic operator.
The random select on for checks, without prior approval from FBR, will be avoided by other government agencies.
An approach based on specific information and risk based interventions, in case of requirements originating from the Acts administered by other government agencies and departments, will be adopted for providing better facilitation in imports and export of their consignments.
The automated disbursal of drawback amount and sales tax refunds by giving priority treatment. The duty drawback claims filed through Customs Computerized System along with Bank Credit Advice (BCA) shall automatically be placed at top of the queue and processed on priority and the refund claims of Sales Tax and Federal Excise Duty, after submission of complete documents, shall be processed on priority.
The silver certificate may be granted to categories of economic operators other than importers and exporters, including logistics providers, custodians or terminal and off-dock terminal operators, customs agents and warehouse operators, the FBR added.