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ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) has cancelled the hearing of a case scheduled to be held on April 7 against the selection of the successful company for the implementation of track and trace system for tobacco products, cement, sugar, and fertiliser.

It is learnt that the case was fixed for hearing on April 7th, which was cancelled due to the Covid situation in the federal capital.

The IHC had 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.

So far, three aggrieved bidders have approached Sindh and the Islamabad High Courts after dismissal of their applications under Rule 48 of the Public Procurement Rules 2004 by Grievance Redressal Committee (GRC) of the FBR on the selection of M/s AJCL (Pvt) Limited for the implementation of the track and trace system.

The Sindh High Court has already issued a stay order on March 12, 2021, on a suit filed by the SICPA - one of the aggrieved bidders.

The next hearing of the case has been fixed on April 5th at the SHC.

Sources said that the FBR was fully prepared to plead the case before the SHC on April 5 for vacation of stay order.

Addressing a meeting of the federal cabinet last month, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that the FBR’s track and trace system was crucial for curbing tax evasion in the country.

“The board had assured the government that the new system would be in place by June 1 but now we have been told that the Sindh High Court (SHC) has issued a stay order.”

“Until this system is in place, we cannot stop tax evasion,” he said, directing the law minister to inform the SHC about the situation to get the stay order vacated.

“Because of tax evasion, we have to rely on indirect taxes which lead to inflation.”

According to the FBR, in order to prevent leakage of revenue, under-reporting of production and sales of tobacco, cement fertilisers, and sugar products and to ensure proper payment of the Federal Excise Duty and the Sales Tax on the manufacture and sale of the specified products, the FBR is mandated to issue a licence for implementation of a TTS.

The FBR stated that the tax evasion is a menace, which can only be curbed through use of computerization of production lines.

This non-intrusive, human-interaction free process of tracking and tracing the actual production, taking place in Pakistan, never suits tax-evaders. The big-picture of final beneficiary, who has benefitted in last 14 years, by halting /impeding, computerized monitoring of production lines sheds some light on on-going stream of litigation which only pavers the way for tax-evasion.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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