The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) clarified on Sunday that the requirement of submitting a currency declaration form for inbound passengers to Pakistan was not a new development, stating that a notification in this regard had been issued by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) over a decade ago.
“FBR has rebutted misleading information being shared in some sections of press that Pakistan has recently imposed currency declaration requirements for passengers coming into Pakistan. State Bank of Pak issued requirements about 10 yrs ago & Pak Customs widened the scope in 2019,” the revenue body’s spokesperson said in a late-night tweet.
Last month, media reports stated that the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) had started implementing Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards in accordance with the government’s directives for submission of customs’ declaration forms by all inbound and outbound passengers of international flights giving details of their currency, gold jewellery, precious stones and restricted goods such as narcotics, weapons, satellite phones, etc.
Pakistan Customs had been directed to depute its staff at all international airports to facilitate inbound/outbound passengers of all international flights.
The airlines’ crews would distribute the customs’ declaration forms during the flights among all passengers, irrespective of their nationality.
The declaration forms would be deposited at the customs’ counters before the immigration desks at all airports, the report had stated.
The Senate Standing Committee on Finance was later told that the PCAA issued the orders on Aug 16 for the requirement of the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) ahead of an onsite visit of a delegation of the FATF and Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering. The delegation completed its visit on Sept 2.
Testifying before the committee, SBP Deputy Governor Dr Inayat Hussain had said this was one of the reasons for recent pressure on the rupee.
In its press release issued on Sunday, the FBR stated that the currency declaration requirement had been “in field for more than a decade, rather than being recently introduced on account of any recent FATF review requirements”.
“Unlike portrayed by some section[s] of the press, the mandatory requirement for passengers coming into Pakistan and bringing currency and/or negotiable instruments was notified by the State Bank of Pakistan more than 10 years ago vide notification no. F.E.1/2012-SB dated June 16, 2012.”
It stated that Statutory Regulatory Order 689(I)/2019 was issued on June 29, 2019, to notify the “comprehensive ‘Customs Declaration Form for Passengers’” introduced by Pakistan Customs, which broadened the form’s scope to include gold jewellery, precious stones and other prohibited or restricted goods.
The rules covered both inbound and outbound passengers, it said.
The FBR further stated that the requirement was in line with international standards, adding that passengers could submit the declaration form either at the customs’ counter or online.
“In order to increase awareness amongst the international passengers, Pakistan Customs has been collaborating with the Civil Aviation Authority, airlines and immigration authorities to improve its outreach for both departing and arriving passengers. As a result, compliance has been steadily increasing,” the revenue body stated.