The World Bank (WB) has submitted a detailed report on PaCCS to the FBR on the working of the customs clearance systems in Pakistan and mention that FBR has no contingency plan to terminate PaCCS (Pakistan Customs Clearance System). The three different customs systems create several problems into the system: PaCCS at the Karachi container ports, ‘One Customs’ at all other customs freight locations including the Karachi container ports, and WeBOC, which is completing its development and is to be piloted at the Karachi Airport during this calendar year.
The use of these three different systems by traders and agents complicates their business as they need to know which system is to be used for which Goods Declaration. In particular, trade bodies, members of associations and chambers have expressed their satisfaction to PaCCS and stated that
“system closure would bring abrupt losses in terms of short collection of revenue to government along side adding another high raise in the cost of doing business”.
The PaCCS is a vendor-developed software package that was initially deployed in one container terminal in 2005, and subsequently in all three Karachi container terminals by 2007, and now processes approximately 64 percent of the commercial cargo traffic that is imported or exported. Agility, software Development Company does not have a maintenance agreement with FBR, nor has FBR been licensed to use the PaCCS product. This situation has resulted in the elimination of any updates to the system and Agility turned off PaCCS for two days earlier this year which caused significant disruption at the ports and limited both imports and exports during the disruption, the WB report said.
The trading community reports that PaCCS has improved the processing of goods through its electronic linkages to them and the container port systems. FBR has no contingency plan to deal with the termination of this system in an orderly way beyond forcing all transactions to be handled by the other currently available system–’One Customs’. The WB has observed that ‘OneCustoms’ is an internally developed (in-house) legacy system processes 36 percent of all commercial cargo traffic. ‘OneCustoms’ utilises a very old non-web enabled interface for customs staff which, according to its users, makes it difficult to use and requires significant manual interaction with the system.
The WB said that the hardware that ‘OneCustoms’ is running on is approaching its commercial end-of-life; it would need to be upgraded within in a year. The WB has recommended that there should be only one IT system in use for customs goods declaration processing in Pakistan. The process used to move from the current situation requires crucial decisions by the FBR.
The decisions will be based upon a number of factors such as: the completeness of the solution offered, vendor sustainability in terms of capitalisation, ease of extracting data from the system for use in other applications, compliance with WTO/WCO standards and how frequently updates are provided, responsiveness of the vendor to bug-fixes and localisation requests, the number of sites running this software and, ultimately, how affordable the solution is?
The World Bank directed FBR that current status of PaCCS should be resolved as quickly as possible. If the decision by FBR is to retain PaCCS, then FBR would negotiate with the Agility to procure sufficient licences of their product. Also, adequate training for all customs staff who will be using the product, for those who will be maintaining it day-to-day and to the trading community should be assured.