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Auto-clearance of containers restored at ports

Posted by on Thursday, July 28, 2011, 11:54
This news item was posted in Business category and has 1 Comment so far .

KARACHI: The auto-clearance system of containerised cargo at the Model Customs Collectorate of PaCCS, which remained suspended at the Karachi Port and the Port Qasim between Monday night and Tuesday evening was restored by the Agility โ€” the company which owns the software for auto-clearance.

The service had come to a sudden halt on Monday night following its stoppage by the Kuwait-based company.

According to unconfirmed reports late on Tuesday evening, the Agility restored the auto-clearance system at PaCCS.

During the period of suspension of the auto-clearance, a large number of import and export containers remained stuck at the Karachi Port and the Port Qasim, creating congestion and causing loss worth millions of rupees to the trade and industry, official sources said.

The system had been working at the ports since 2005 and the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of the software is owned by the Agility.

Ever since the system at the PaCCS started displaying message on its website โ€œLicence expired: contact administrator,โ€ customs officials approached company`s local staff at the Customs House and came to know that the decision to shut down the system had been taken at the company`s headquarters.

The MCC of PaCCS handles around 65 per cent of country`s cargo and according to some estimates, around 1,000 to 1,200 goods declarations (GDs) are filed daily. Similarly, around 5000 boxes (3,500 TEUs import cargo and 1,500 TEUs export cargo) are cleared under the system daily.

The issue of payment against services and other matters relating to IPR between the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Agility had been going on for the last so many years. However, during the last two years both the sides went to such an extent that operations were suspended at PaCCS, and the Agility served a final notice on the FBR for stoppage of the service, sources added.

In the meantime, the successive FBR chairmen failed to enter into a final arrangement with the Agility.

Sources stated that fast movement of containerised cargo needs auto-clearance system or else it would lead to congestion at ports.

The issue of suspension of PaCCS service was taken up with the FBR by the higher-ups of the Customs and the president, Karachi Customs Agents Association Mohammad, Younus Soomro after which the service was restored.

Customs insiders stated that the Pakistan Revenue Automation Ltd (PRAL) has developed WeBOC software. However, the system still awaits a Risk Management System (RMS) module to ensure its effective deployment.

Sources said if the FBR is not willing to enter into any arrangement with the Agility, the PRAL be asked to install WeBOC at all the three container terminals, QICT, PICK and KICT, so that an alternative auto-clearance system remains in place.

They further stated that it would be in the interest of the country if FBR gets rights from the Agility, but not before the system is upgraded and updated.

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