The Federal Revenue Board (FBR) launched on Monday a raid on traders / businessmen engaged in cigared tobacco, but also launched a national awareness campaign among traders to prevent the sale of such non-duty-paid products.
According to a tweet of the FBR,
“FBR has launched a crackdown against the traders/businessmen involved in illicit trade of counterfeit cigarettes and tax evasion”
The FBR has launched a compliance exercise against sellers of unpaid and falsified tobacco cigarettes on several markets in the country, under the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The FBR is also starting to warn traders about their tobacco, the arrest and heavy fines. For the first time, the FBR has been aware of these problems.
The FBR has already set up a Joint Monitoring, Vigilance and Surveillance Committee to track the illegal trade between the tobacco industry and other products such as alcohol, sugar, fertilizers and cement.
Premier Imran Khan has recently expressed serious concerns about the increasing illegal trade in Pakistan in tobacco, undermining the registered and compliant industry. The growth of illegality undermines several government measures to effectively tackle this public health issue, which also causes a significant loss of tax evasion to the national exchequer.
According to a letter issued from Prime Minister’s Office, tobacco use is one of the major causes of serious illness and death in Pakistan,
“Keeping in view its health and economic implications, the prime minister has taken a serious note of the above situation and has been pleased to desire that a country-wide crackdown be launched against the sale of illicit cigarettes on priority,” the letter stated.
Sources indicate that over Rs 30-40 billion is lost annually due to the illegal trafficking in tobacco. The current market share of the illicit cigarettes, which are mostly local, amounts to 33%, while the tax paying industry has a 67% share, but only 2% of the government’s total tobacco industry taxes are paid by local manufacturers.