FTO orders probe against officers of directorate of reforms & automationi for Failure to issue Verification of Amount Paid Twice The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to probe inordinate delay and deliberate inaction with regard to the timely verification and refund of amount held in the operating system of WeBOC duly deducted twice by the system from the account of the Complainant. In this regard, the FTO has issued an order. The complaint basically pertains to the Directorate of Reforms & Automation, Custom House, Karachi. Briefly, the Complainant namely M/s Smart lmpex paid Rs. 846,843/- against PSID No. 26209210713153148 relating to GD No. QCSI-HC-205 dated 13.07.2021. The Customs Authorities informed him that PSW is not confirming the paid amount. Therefore, a new PSID was generated, and he again made the payment against the said new PSID. In this way, he paid twice for clearance of the same consignment. When he contacted the Customs Authorities, they informed him that they had written a letter to the Directorate of Reforms & Automation, as the amount would be verified by the Directorate of Reforms & Automation. The Complainant sought verification of amount from the Directorate of Reforms & Automation, Karachi. The complaint was referred for comments to the Secretary, Revenue Division, Islamabad. The Collector, Collectorate of Customs Appraisement, Quetta replied that M/s Smart lmpex paid an amount of Rs. 846,843/- through PSID No. 25212210713125336 dated 13.07.2021 against GD and the amount stood transferred from their account. As the above PSID was not connected with the GD, therefore, the importer generated another PSID No. 26209210713153148 on 13.07.2021 and got the consignment cleared. Later on, the importer filed application for refund of Rs. 846,843/- in connection with transaction from their account. However, the same transaction was not acknowledged by the WeBOC system/log report. Thereupon, the Collectorate took up matter with the Directorate of Reforms & Automation, Karachi for requisite verification. However, the Directorate of Reforms & Automation, Custom House, Karachi is causing unnecessary delay in confirming the same to the Collectorate of Customs (Appraisement), Quetta in order to enable the latter to sanction refund of Rs. 846,843/-. The Complainant clarified that the amount of Rs. 846,843/- against PSID No.2521220713125336 dated 13.07.2021 was paid twice by the Complainant, not by the M/s Smart lmpex. Further contended that he is not responsible for the individual acts and the allegations raised against M/s Smart lmpex, i.e., charges of money laundering (transferring of import remittances of Chinese based solar panels to Dubai) and the discrepancies in its total business capital. Having examined arguments and available record, the Federal Tax Ombudsman concluded that WeBOC system had generated PSID number 251220713125336 dated 13.07.2021 and an amount of Rs. 846,843/- against the said PSID was transferred from M/S Meezan Bank, Manan Chowk, Quetta account number 11010102158657 operated by the Complainant to the system account of WeBOC. This fact has been admitted by the Collectorate of Customs Appraisement, Quetta in their correspondence that the same PSID was not linked to GD No. QCSI-HC-205 dated 13.07.2021 in the name of importer M/s Smart lmpex. The Collectorate of Customs Appraisement, Quetta made earnest efforts to address the system-based problem by writing to the Directorate of Reforms and Automation, Karachi for necessary changes (Change Request Form) in operating System of WeBOC for the said PSID of the Complainant, but the requisite change was neither addressed by the Directorate of Reforms and Automation, Karachi, nor any response was given to the Collectorate which resulted in hardships to the Complainant. Bare perusal of section 33oftheCustoms Act 1969 transpires that the law itself provides for error, inadvertence and over-payments. The instant case squarely falls in the ambit of the said law. The FTO further observed that the misplaced response of the Directorate of Reforms & Automation, Karachi was with the intent to protract the problem rather than resolve the same. Unnecessary and unwarranted comments submitted in the matter by the Directorate regarding inquiry against the importer were quite misleading and an attempt to misguide and distract this forum. The most they were required to intimate to the Collectorate of Appraisement, Quetta that the said amount of the Complainant is stuck-up in the system. Given the irresponsible position, maladministration in terms of Section 2(3)(i)(ii) of the FTO Ordinance was found established against the officers of the Directorate of Reforms and Automation, Karachi on account of non-redressal with regard to the system related problems and glitches, and willful reluctance regarding confirmation of the amount against PSID. Accordingly, the Federal Tax Ombudsman has recommended to the FBR to direct the Collector of Customs Appraisement, Quetta to process/refund Rs. 846,843/- against PSID No. 2521220713125336, after getting due verification from the Directorate of Reforms and automation, Karachi. The Director General, Reforms and Automation, Islamabad has also been directed to probe this inordinate delay and deliberate inaction on the part of the Directorate of Reforms & Automation, Karachi and fix responsibility on the delinquents. Moreover, the Director General has also been instructed to conduct a holistic survey of the WeBOC operating system and identify problems faced by the Collectorates of Customs in operations, revenue collections and associated implications confronted by the taxpayers and rectify the same at the earliest. In pursuit of the FTO’s directive, the Director, Directorate of Reforms & Automation, Karachi has issued the verification report, whereby the Collector of Customs Appraisement, Quetta has issued refund cheque amounting to Rs.502,227/-. The remaining amount of refund with regard to sales tax and withholding tax would be paid by the Regional Tax Office, Quetta. However, action against the officers of the Directorate of Reforms & Automation, Karachi on account of misleading stance and deliberate delay is underway.