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ISLAMABAD: Islam-abad High Court (IHC) has issued notices to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) to submit their comments for selection of the successful company for the implementation of track and trace system for tobacco products, cement, sugar and fertilizer.

So far, three aggrieved bidders have approached Sindh & Islamabad High Courts after dismissal of their applications under Rule 48 of Public Procurement Rules 2004 by Grievance Redressal Committee (GRC) of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on the selection of M/s AJCL (Pvt.)

Limited for the implementation of the track and trace system.

On Monday, the third aggrieved bidder (NIFT) approached the IHC which the court accepted for hearing and issued notices to all respondents including FBR, AJCL and PPRA with instructions to submit responses before the next date of hearing - April 7, 2021 keeping in view that the Sindh High Court has already issued a stay order on March 12, 2021 on a suit filed by SICPA - one of the aggrieved bidders.

The FBR had issued Instructions for License (IFL) for Track and Trace System for tobacco products, cement, sugar & fertilizers with the objective that the licensee will not have material conflict of interest with industry sectors to act efficiently as a deterrent to tax fraud. This would ensure disincentivize fraudulent activities such as under-declaration and ensuring a level playing field to all role players.

Therefore, in clause 1.8 of Annexure 2 of IFL, the declaration was required by the applicant that “The Applicant shall have no material conflict of interest with the industry of the goods such as, but not limited to, direct or indirect involvement in the manufacturing, import, export, distribution, wholesale and retail of the Goods.”

In a recent writ petition 1003/2021 filed with the IHC, the petitioner alleged that the AJCL has misrepresented on material conflict of interest being importer and exporter of the industry of the goods defined in the IFL.

In the petition submitted to the IHC, the petitioner has also presented copies of Bill of Ladings and shipments information as evidence of the fact that the AJCL through wholly-owned foreign subsidiaries (Claiser Trading LTD and Claiser Trading FZE) have exported 39,115,443.57 Liters of Ethanol through 379 separate shipments during the period January 2018 to December 2020 worth billions of rupees on behalf of the sugar industry or distilleries owned by the sugar industry, petitioners accused.

Petitioners have accused that the successful company in clear violation of the IFL due to its historical trade relationship with goods manufacturers and putting it in an unfairly advantageous position against other traders/ importers /exporters of the goods, which has the potential of causing disruptive and harmful market practices in the relevant sectors.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021