The Union Finance Ministry notification regarding rising import duties to 200 per cent did not specify the time of its implementation, leaving importers confused. Due to this, customs officials at the ICP, Attari, are not allowing the importers to pick up their imports without paying 200 per cent duty.
Cement importer, Vikram Arora, said, hours after his paying entry bill for a lot of cement from Pakistan at the ICP, the decision of hike in the customs duty was announced. The next day he went to the Customs Department who denied to clear the import without paying 200 per cent duty in spite of the fact that all their documents were cleared and the duty at the old rate was deposited before the notification was issued.
A dry fruit importer, Anil Mehra, said it was an injustice with Punjab business fraternity that the import duty was hiked from the ICP, Attari, while barter trade was undergoing at the Aman-Setu in the Kashmir valley: “We appreciate the decision taken by the Union Government of withdrawing the most favoured nation (MFN) status to Pakistan and imposition of import duty on all the commodities brought in from Pakistan from all the Indian ports, except Jammu and Kashmir.”
He said it created an uneven trade scenario. He added that they were informed by their counterparts in other states that the increase in import duty on trade from all other Indian ports with Pakistan had affected the business very badly because trade from ‘Aman-Setu’ is totally duty free, whereas from elsewhere, a heavy duty is charged.