The Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) directorate general of intelligence and investigation (DG I&I) has claimed a big victory in the campaign against bootlegged liquor.

Booze rates in black market shot up over the past few months as the free availability of smuggled foreign liquor in Pakistan was made difficult following a crackdown against alcohol bootleggers.

Addressing a media briefing on Tuesday, FBR DG I&I-Customs Director Irfan Javed said the directorate’s performance had improved following a bid to stop smuggling. They did so with the help of Naval Intelligence, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), police, and various other agencies, Javed added.

The Customs official noted that booze smuggling under name of foreign embassies had reduced significantly after a big case was uncovered. However, he clarified that the embassies had distanced themselves from the imported consignment, following which the smuggled alcohol were confiscated.

576 percent more cases registered

Javed said the directorate’s performance in the first two quarters of 2019-20 was comparatively better than the past five years. An increase of 576 percent was observed in the cases registered during this time, as opposed to last year’s comparative period. In terms of monetary value, this gain was 166 percent higher.

In total, cases worth Rs4.82 billion were registered as part of the campaign to stop smuggling. At the same time, a sum of Rs315 million was directly added to the Treasury.

Cases against several importers were registered after a major tax-theft scandal surfaced in the iron and steel industry, he said, adding that a bid of the Oil & Gas Development Company’s (OGDC) importers to save Rs220 million worth of import duty via misuse of Statutory Regulatory Orders (SRO) 2004/678 was foiled.

The biggest operation in the Anti-Smuggling Organisation’s (ASO) history was carried out in Yousuf Goth, Javed mentioned, adding that with the help of police, they were able to seize contraband valued at Rs469.8 million from only one place.

The Customs officer told media that for the anti-smuggling campaign, they took on board the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA), and traders associations.

Manufacturers, traders ‘happy with our performance’

“We told them to inform us should our officers harass them, attempt to extort from them, or are caught involved in smuggling,” he said. “However, we did not receive any complaints from them.”

“Similarly, in order to make the campaign against smugglers more effective, we took assistance from Naval Intelligence, the ISI, police, and other agencies and it has yielded satisfactory and positive results.

“The local manufacturers and traders operating legally are happy with our performance,” he added.

Javed, nonetheless, noted that cases of misdeclaration, under-invoicing, and facilitating smuggling were registered against multiple Customs officers. In response to a question, he said those officers comprised those stationed at the Port Qasim and Customs East.

“We also took action against our own officers and have registered some cases,” he said.