Peshawar – The implementation of Web Based One Customs service was rejected by the importers on Pakistan-China Border due to lack of internet facilities at the Khunjerab Pass in Gilgit.
Importers and exporters on Friday didn’t allow trade with China through the Khunjerab Pass in protest against the introduction of WeBOC (Web-Based One Customs) for goods clearance at the Sost Dry Port.
The region lacked a proper internet service and the traders were not educated enough to learn about the new system. A meeting of various trade organizations in Gilgit, called by Gilgit-Baltistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (GBCCI), has announced the protest against the implementation of the WeBOC service.
The representatives of the GB importers and exporters association, Hunza-Nagar Chamber of Commerce, customs clearing agents association and others attended the meeting. Talking to media-persons after the meeting, GBCCI President Nasir Hussain Raki alleged that Pakistan Customs was imposing new laws on the Sost Dry Port to fail the traders.
“It is a conspiracy to fail trade activity between Pakistan and China through the Karakoram Highway as it will render thousands of local people jobless,” he maintained. He said the online clearance and processing of shipments was being introduced in an area where internet was not available.
“How exporters and importers can ensure the compliance with the system being launched here when the area is deprived of internet service besides the local traders are not educated enough to learn the new system,” he further maintained. He said the shipments from China would not be cleared for months for want of the computer-based clearance at the dry port, causing the traders huge losses.
Raki said GB is a disputed territory therefore it should be declared a tax-free zone as per wishes of the locals. He said the local traders won’t let any container pass from the GB unless their demands were met. Irshad Hussain, a trader, alleged that the federal government is discriminating against the GB people, saying their next plan of action would be to start the agitation against the center to pressure it to declare the GB a tax-free zone under the CPEC.
Meanwhile, PPP Member of Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly Javed Hussain, while talking on a point of order during the ongoing session of the house, said, according to the international laws, taxes could not be imposed on an area where people had no representation in the legislation body. “As GB has no representation in the Parliament of Pakistan, collection of taxes from the GB people is unlawful,” the lawmaker stressed.