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Customs to automate forex updates in WeBOC

Business

May 23, 2019

KARACHI: The government on Wednesday decided to abolish the manual procedures of the customs department to feed daily exchange rate into its in-house system to determine import tariffs.

Customs officials currently procure exchange rates for various currencies on daily basis either manually or through downloading them from the website of treasury and capital markets group office of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP). They then feed the data manually into the department’s automated system Web-Based One Customs (WeBOC) for utilisation in assessment of value of imports for calculating duties and taxes.

“In order to further enhance the efficiency of this operation, the FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) has decided to electronically link customs automated system WeBOC with the treasury and capital markets group of the National Bank of Pakistan,” an official statement said. The objective is to directly upload the daily exchange rate of major currencies into the WeBOC.

Settlement of payments for Pakistan’s foreign trade is done in international currencies. Value of imported goods is converted to rupees, using latest exchange rate of major currencies notified by the treasury of the NBP.

“It is expected that this reform initiative will improve the efficiency and transparency of the process, and will also preclude any possibility of errors/omission,” the statement added.

The rupee has been suffering from extreme volatility in the past couple of months. It continued to lose its value against the US dollar and manages to post slight recoveries so far. Overall, the rupee has depreciated by 37.45 percent since January 2018 to have become one of the 13 worst performing currencies in Asia. Alone in the last one and half months, the exchange rate has depreciated by 5.93 percent. The government is struggling to curtail import bills to ease pressures on yawning external account gap. The rupee devaluation has been somehow successful in slashing imports by eight percent to $45.4 billion in the July-April of 2018/19 fiscal year.

The revenue division directed Director (Reforms and Automation), Karachi for development and deployment of required module (in WeBoc) in close consultation with the NBP “on top priority basis,” the statement added.

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