The officials concerned have been instructed to prevent smuggling of dollars abroad amid reports of suspected attempts in this regard by money changers amid lack of strict search of passengers taking flights for Dubai and Turkey from Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and Sialkot airports.
According to airport sources, up to 2,000 people travel abroad daily from the airports in Punjab through domestic and international airlines and have to submit declarations about the amount of cash they are carrying.
Under the law, each businessperson is allowed to carry up to $10,000 on an international flight and other passengers $5,000.
Sources say that the exchange rate of US dollar in Dubai is about Rs4 higher in Dubai and Turkey than in Pakistan.
The sources said officials suspected that there were dozens of who made almost weekly visits to Dubai from the airports and they could be identified with the help of the official record. Most of them are not associated with any formal business.
The officials reportedly suspect that such frequent travellers include those sent by money changers of Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Multan to smuggle currency abroad in an easy way.
The sources linked to the foreign exchange business said money changers were buying dollar notes daily, increasing the demand for the currency.
The sources also pointed out that the prices of goods were determined by customs officials on the basis of rates that had not been updated for several years, forcing the importers to transfer the remaining amount through banks or money changers. The record of such transactions also needs to be verified.
Read More: FBR moves to curb cross-province smuggling
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Customs Collector Basit Ali Abbasi the declaration in this regard had recently been made mandatory.
He said overseas travellers were searched when needed and all their record was linked to a main system.
The sources said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had also issued instructions to its staff to prevent smuggling of dollars at immigration counters. A list of people suspected of involvement in the smuggling has also reportedly been given to immigration officials.
However, the authorities concerned have not arrested any passenger travelling with more cash than the permitted limit at any airport in the province in recent days.
The sources said Lahore FIA Director Dr Mohammed Rizwan had issued instructions for measures against currency smuggling. Lists of more than 100 people suspected of being involved in the smuggling in Lahore and their accomplices have been shared with airport officials.
The staff will stop the suspects and conduct a thorough search of their belongings. Those found involved in transferring any currency without the permission of the Sate Bankof Pakistan (SBP) will be arrested and prosecuted.
The measures have reportedly been taken in view of continuing depreciation of the rupee due to illegal sale of dollars, which is creating many problems for the country’s economy and people.
In May 2019, the federal government had issued directives for setting up the Directorate of Cross Border Currency Movement (DCBCM) to curb currency smuggling in a bid to implement the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) action plan.
It was decided to establish a special cell was in the directorate to investigate money laundering in the garb of trade.
The directorate will function under the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation. Its office will also be set up at the Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation.
According to documents available with The Express Tribune, the FBR had issued a four-page order for establishing the DCBCM. The directorate will send its monthly reports to the Financial Monitoring Unit and the FBR.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2021.