NAB initiates inquiry against Rs32bln laundering in import of solar panels

Pakistan Today

ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has launched an inquiry into money laundering of Rs32 billion allegedly carried out in one year under solar import due to the ignorance of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Customs officials, Pakistan Today learnt on Friday.
According to sources, over 300 million dollars were being transferred to United Arab Emirates (UAE), China, Germany, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam due to duty exemption on the import of solar panels annually. The price of A Grade solar panels in the global market was around 35 cent per volt. But, the importers had indicated 1 to 2.5 dollars per volt.
Sources also said that a trader had imported solar panels worth Rs2billion and sold in the local market. But they were of low quality and without 25-year third-party insurance warranty. Despite the Rs38 billion annual loss, the authorities concerned did not take any action.
They said solar panels with a total capacity of 839 megawatts were imported but solar panels of 680MW capacity were of B&C Grade i-e low standard. Moreover, the records pertaining to the suppliers of 81 per cent solar gadgets/equipment were not available either.
According to NAB’s letter and report of Pakistan Solar Association, although a facility of duty exemption was granted to control power load shedding and promote an environment-friendly source of electricity, a heavy loss to public and national exchequer by misusing this facility was being caused. The trust and confidence of the general public on solar equipment was damaged as well.
It has also been learnt that the price of good standards solar equipment in the international market was around 0.70 dollars per volt. However, importers while using banking channels, have shown the price at 1.25 dollars per volt to 2.5 dollars per volt and laundered billions of rupees. Price of solar equipment has witnessed a significant decrease but these importers jacked up the prices and earned worth inequitable profits.
According to limited estimation, laundering of around 112 million dollars was carried out if the price of solar equipment was calculated at 0.70 dollars per volt. While on the other hand, if counted the actual price, then approximately 317 million dollars were laundered which directly affected the country’s economy.
Pak Solar Association has written letters and forwarded reports to authorities concerned, including NAB chairman and Chief Justice of Pakistan while seeking a probe into the matter. A government relation committee of Pakistan Solar Association has also expressed willingness to fully cooperate in the sharing of information while the import report of Pakistan Customs has also pointed out heavy losses to the exchequer in the import of solar panels.

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