Curb menace of currency smuggling

JUST a few days back the rupee plunged to a historic low of Rs 107.45 against the US dollars. Many reasons are being attributed to this record depreciation but one of the most prominent but despicable one is the act of some unscrupulous elements that have once again become active in smuggling of both forex and bullion. Because of the illegal activity, these handful elements might have pocketed millions of rupees but at the cost of the national economy as the net result of currency depreciation is simultaneous increase in import bill and the debt burden.
Chairing a meeting the other day, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar specifically pinpointed the loss the country suffers because of the devaluation of the rupee. According to him, one rupee devaluation cost Rs 57 billion loss to the national exchequer. In fact this phenomenon of forex smuggling which hurts the very stability of local currency is nothing new as reports about smuggling of dollars through launch boats to Dubai and other destinations from Karachi keep surfacing in the media every now and then. Some of the attempts are foiled while many get away and reach their destination points. We believe this smuggling is not possible without the connivance of relevant authorities such as Customs and the FIA whose palms are greased by the unscrupulous elements to get their work done. Arrest of Super Model Ayan Ali and some others who were detained red-handed from the airports for trying to smuggle the dollars itself indicates the involvement of high profile figures in this illegal business. Given the heavy losses inflicted by this we will call economic terrorism, time has come that Zarb-e-Azb like operation is also launched against these currency smugglers without any discrimination and given exemplary punishment. Apart from bringing the black sheep in Customs and FIA to book, the relevant departments especially intelligence agencies should demonstrate utmost vigil at all ports, airports and entry points to curb this menace. Big fish that pull the strings from the back also need to be nabbed to totally rid the country of this evil.

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