Impact of illicit tobacco trade enormous in terms of revenue

Staff Reporter

A Roundtable Discussion on “Illicit Tobacco Trade: Need for Implementation of Law & Regulatory Regimes” was organized by Center for Global and Strategic Studies, Islamabad here on Wednesday.

The discussion commenced with the opening remarks of Major General Hafiz Masroor Ahmed (Retd), Vice President, Center for Global and Strategic Studies, Islamabad.

He stated that lot of studies have been conducted on this issue and its shows that the impact of illicit tobacco trade is enormous in terms of revenue. In our current policy, many new initiatives are being incorporated to tackle this issue.

Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of Pakistan was the Guest of Honor at the occasion. He stated that being multidimensional, this matter is of great significance.

He stated that there have been a lot of campaigns to highlight this issue at both national and international level.

The aim of these campaigns was to limit the use of tobacco rather to completely eliminate it.

He further added that in recent times, we have not seen any significant decrease in the in the illicit tobacco trade.

Mr. Zahid Latif, Chairman, Islamabad Stock Exchange stated that only two tobacco companies pay 98 percent of total tax tobacco collection.

The remaining 40 percent companies pay a meagre two percent tax. In last twenty years, nothing concrete have been done to curb this issue. This subject leads to subjects like smuggling and loss of revenue.

Dr. Ikram Ghani, Former Chairman Pakistan Tobacco Board stated that there is no denying that in Pakistan, today illicit tobacco trade is on the rise.

The price differential between the duty paid and local NDP cigarettes is leading to a further inclination towards consumption of illegally produced cigarettes. Today 40% of cigarettes sold in the country are illicit.

Mr. Tariq Bakhtawar, Former Director Anti-Money Laundering at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan stated that we need to have effective resource and implementation mechanism.

We have done good work in terms of establishing the framework but implementation is also important. Our legal framework is in bits and pieces and we need a strong implementation regime.

Mian Abdul Rauf, Former Advocate General Islamabad High Court stated that there are various factors but one has to go for a more comprehensive legislation and regulatory regime. Regulatory regimes needs efficiency and implementation of laws.

There is a difficulty to criminalize before going through SRO’s. Mr. Ashfaq Ahmed Tola, Founder and President of Tola Associates stated we need to ponder upon the net sum of loss the country holds on account of illicit tobacco trade.

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