SRINAGAR: Records of the registration of cross-LoC traders at the Trade Facilitation Centre Salamabad, Uri, have been “haphazardly” maintained by authorities since the inception of the trade in 2008.
According to a report composed by the Custodian cross-LoC trade Farooq Ahmad Shah (a copy of which is with Kashmir Reader), the records of the traders were maintained on a notebook — whose page are either torn out even as other pages are left blank — and on a computer. The result is that the records simply don’t match now.
The available records, says the report, are in a mess and none of the earlier officers “bothered” to get things rectified.
The report reveals that for the first seven years of the trade, no registration file for a trader was maintained — which would have indicated credentials about his imports and exports. This means, as Shah told Kashmir Reader, that some “unscrupulous elements” have joined the trade during these years.
Shah also said that due to this shoddy maintenance, traders under one proprietor’s name had registered more than one firm, and so a huge imbalance in import and export of traders was noticed. “Seventeen enlistment/registration numbers have been repeated twice and some of them four times in the registration list,” the report says.
This haphazard maintenance has resulted in different version of records of which two versions are available with the Custodian while a group of traders have a different version. Kashmir Reader is in possession of all the three version of records. This mismatch has obviously confused both the Custodian and many traders.
The first Custodian of the trade, Mohammad Ashraf, who is now serving as Joint Director Industries and Commerce Department said that at the start it was not possible to maintain the records properly partially due to the lack of staff and partially due to a lesser number of traders.
“Not many people were doing it at that time. Our aim was to encourage more people to join the trade. We were so eager that sometimes I have enlisted traders on a mere phone call. But today, people are willing to do it and now it has become necessary to maintain the records. To be honest, it was a new trade, and we only learn with the passage of time,” Ashraf told Kashmir Reader. But the trend set by Ashraf was followed by five Custodians, till Shah took over two months ago.
Director Industries and Commerce Nazim Zia Khan said he has taken a cue from the report and has already directed one of his officers to fix responsibility. “The thought of starting this trade was good but its execution was not. Now, once the officer identifies a culprit, I will write to the government to take action,” Kazim said.
Meanwhile, Shah in his report has also recommended measures like a registration for every trader, a time-bound registration period, mandatory TIN number and upgradation of staff and infrastructure . This new system, according to Shah, would for the first time have a separate documented file for a trader with details of imports and exports and a balance sheet to judge a trader’s activities.