Pak­istan set­ting up dig­i­tal platform for traders

Gulf Times Business - - BUSINESS -

Pak­istan has kick-started the process of es­tab­lish­ing an in­te­grated dig­i­tal platform named the Na­tional Sin­gle Win­dow (NSW) to fa­cil­i­tate traders in fil­ing import and ex­port doc­u­ments at one place in­stead of 42 places and re­duce the con­sign­ment clear­ance time at ports to hours from days at present.

“The new sys­tem will cut an­nual import and ex­port cost by $800mn if we man­age to im­prove the cross-bor­der trading sys­tem by 3%,” Fed­eral Board of Rev­enue’s (FBR) NSW Pro­gramme Direc­tor Im­ran Mohmand said while talk­ing to a group of jour­nal­ists at a meeting or­gan­ised by the FBR, Pak­istan Cus­toms and the World Bank.

“The ben­e­fit of cost re­duc­tion will go to the pri­vate sec­tor; the sys­tem is tar­geted to be made op­er­a­tional by Fe­bru­ary 2022,” he said.

He pointed out that Pak­istan’s rank­ing had im­proved 29 notches to 142nd place out of 190 economies in the area of trading across bor­ders, ad­ding they were work­ing on the sys­tem for the past 14 months.

Ac­cord­ing to Mohmand, the sys­tem has helped South Korea to save $3bn an­nu­ally while its doc­u­men­ta­tion and cus­toms cost has gone down to $70 per 20-foot con­tainer.

It has helped Sin­ga­pore to save $1bn an­nu­ally and im­prove its rank­ing to num­ber 2 in trading across bor­ders. Sim­i­larly, Costa Rica has re­duced the time for doc­u­men­tary com­pli­ance from 27 hours to 2 hours and its ex­ports have in­creased 22.4%.

He elab­o­rated that the in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy (ICT)-based platform would con­nect 42 reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties, min­istries and other de­part­ments like the Pak­istan Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Au­thor­ity (PTA), Min­istry of Com­merce, Oil and Gas Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity (Ogra), Pak­istan Cus­toms, port au­thor­i­ties, cus­toms agents and trans­porters.

The traders will file import and ex­port doc­u­ments at the sin­gle platform for one time only and not again and again. The 42 agencies, in­clud­ing banks, in­sur­ance, port and cus­toms au­thor­i­ties will process the doc­u­ments on one platform.

“We will dig­i­talise all the 42 agencies one by one to make the Na­tional Sin­gle Win­dow project op­er­a­tional,” he said, ad­ding it was aimed at digi- tal­is­ing 75% of doc­u­men­ta­tion by 2021-22. At present, Pak­istan clears an import con­sign­ment in an av­er­age of 11 days at a cost of $726. On the con­trary, Korea clears one con­sign­ment in just seven hours at a cost of $342.

Sim­i­larly, Pak­istan clears an ex­port con­sign­ment in an av­er­age of five and a half days at a cost of $474. As op­posed to this, Korea clears the con­sign­ment in just 14 hours with $196 cost.

“Pak­istan’s cur­rent gov­ern­ment is very much sup­port­ive of es­tab­lish­ing the sys­tem but a great political will is still re­quired to make the NSW op­er­a­tional,” Mohmand said.

Sin­ga­porean con­sul­tancy firm Crim­sonLogic has es­ti­mated the project cost at $163mn. “We will make the project op­er­a­tional at a very low cost of around $50-60mn,” an­other of­fi­cial as­so­ci­ated with the NSW said.

FBR Mem­ber Cus­toms Op­er­a­tions Jawad Agha said they had de­vel­oped a new ver­sion of the in­dige­nously de­vel­oped pa­per­less cus­toms’ man­age­ment sys­tem called WeBOC (We­bBased One Cus­toms).

The new ver­sion of­fers e-pay­ment so­lu­tions, speed up clear­ance of import and ex­port con­sign­ments at ports and help im­prove cus­toms of­fi­cials’ be­hav­iour among other fea­tures.

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