ISLAMABAD: At the time when nearly 63 percent of the Pakistani market has been captured by illicit cigarettes, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Member Inland Revenue (Operations) Saturday launched an exercise to verify digital tax stamps on cigarette packets, sugar and fertiliser bags across the country.

The Regional Tax Offices (RTOs) of the Federal Board of Revenue on the directions of member Inland Revenue operations checked the digital stamped on cigarette packets, sugar and fertiliser bags at selected places on Saturday.

According to information, the RTO Rawalpindi has sealed Bobby Pan Shop at Murree Road for repeated violation of relevant laws regarding illegal/ counterfeit cigarettes.

Similarly, the other RTOs, including in Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, and Peshawar, in a nationwide crackdown, have also sealed and confiscated the counterfeit cigarettes.

This is the second major crackdown, which the RTOs conducted on the instructions of Member IR Operations against illegal cigarettes and other notified sectors that covers under the track and trace systems.

Sources said that the high-ups of the Federal Board of Revenue have under tremendous pressure for not conducting enforcement measures against the non-duty paid goods, including cigarette and sugar bags.

The FBR had implemented the Track-and-Trace System in five sectors and also established a dedicated Inland Revenue Enforcement Network.

The functions of IREN Enforcement units including monitoring of the stamping machines installed in the premises of manufacturers of specified goods to ensure proper and uninterrupted operation of the T&T system through periodic visits of the concerned manufacturing premises, To examine and authenticate Tax Stamp for the purpose of Rule 150 ZH, Verification of reports of unauthorized stoppage of production, Timely action on reports regarding any operation failure, damage, disruption, or tampering in the T&T System by the manufacturer or importer of the specified goods Inspection/ verification of tax stamps, banderoles, stickers, labels, barcodes, etc. which are reported by the manufacturer or importer to be defective, damaged, or do not conform to the required specification and to secure any non-operative production lines, reported by the manufacturer or importer, through security seal and to register the action into the system.

Sources said that the performance of IREN is not satisfactory due to which member IR operations have directed the RTOs to launch crackdown against illegal goods.

It is pertinent to note that the T&T system rolled out during 2021-22 is gradually expanded to cover all the imports and domestic production of designated sectors. FBR claimed that it brought 20% of imports and domestic production of such sectors under its purview till last fiscal year 2022-23.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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