Pakistan to enhance trade with Afghanistan, CARs
Pakistan government is constructing a mega state-of-the-art Border Customs Complex at Torkhem to enhance regional trade with Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs). "The complex is the first of its kind in the country, which will make border crossing systematic, fully computerized and augment the trade volume on the historic route,"Collector Customs, Peshawar Qurban Ali Khan told APP on Tuesday. The state-of-the-art border customs complex would improve facilities related to clearance of goods laden trucks crossing border to Afghanistan and CARs, he added The complex covering 700 kanals land would house customs and immigration offices, two-way customs and immigration terminals, checking and scanning plazas for pedestrians, passenger and cargo vehicles with other infrastructure," Qurban Ali said.
"Border Customs Complex is a step towards achievement of goals set under CAREC (Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation), a partnership of 10 countries and six multilateral development partners working to promote development through cooperation, leading to accelerated economic growth and poverty reduction," he said. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) was providing 300 million dollars loan for execution of the project on soft term basis to Pakistan while National Logistic Cell (NLC) was implementing the project.
The project also includes construction of a similar border complex at Wagha post on PakIndia border and at Chaman in Balochistan, he said and added that presently work on Torkhem had been started. Presently he said NLC had acquired 700 kanals of land in Torkhem and soon work on construction of Customs Complex would start. Presently, he said, checking and clearing process at Torkhem was cumbersome due to lack of facilities and goods trucks took around 24 hours to cross the border towards Afghanistan. After construction of Customs Complex, the clearance time of goods vehicle will reduce from 24 hours to an hour only, he added. Similarly, advance scanners would also help in plugging the menace of smuggling as in the prevailing system of goods clearance, it was impossible for customs officials to fully check heavy vehicles. Collector Customs Peshawar said that due to improvement in system like computerization of official record, the revenue collection as customs duty had shown a remarkable increase of Rs 1102 million (110 million dollars) in the last six months of 2015, from June to December. This increase in revenue collection was result of enhanced trade and after installation of modern system, the trade would flourish further. "About 20 years ago in Customs department there was only one Collector for whole Khyber Pakhtunkwa, FATA and Gilgit Baltistan, but now there are around 1000 officials in the whole province," said Qurban Ali. Recently the Customs Collectorate had also deputed Assistant Collector at Parachinar (Kurram Agency) from where around 600 trucks are crossing border from Parachinar to Afghanistan on daily basis and similarly trucks are coming here loaded with goods including fresh fruit and other items, he continued. "The project can prove to be a game changer for business community of Pakistan in general and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in particular,"opined Zulfiqar Ali, President Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KPCCI).