Tobacco Co. offers help in track, trace system to curb tax evasion

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Zubair qureshi
Islamabad

A private tobacco company Khyber Tobacco Company has offered Prime Minister Imran Khan all possible assistance for Federal Board of Revenue’s track and trace system to curb tax evasion in tobacco and other industries.

In a letter to the prime minister, the company’s chief executive officer Samira Irfan said that the track and trace system must be accompanied by strong law enforcement through well coordination among all competent agencies.

It is abundantly clear that digital solutions of the type that track and trace offers represent the major step forward and will be of great benefit to all stakeholders in the tobacco industry, she said.

The prime minister, last month addressing a federal cabinet meeting, said the implementation of the trace and trace system was crucial for curbing tax evasion in the country.

Around 40 percent of the cigarettes were being sold without paying taxes while the FBR’s repeated efforts to introduce automation in the industry for the last 15 years were sabotaged.

The KTC, which is the third-largest producer of cigarettes in Pakistan with a 3 percent share of market, becomes the first-ever local company to welcome the government’s track and trace system for the tobacco industry.

The company is the single largest taxpayer in the KPK Province and one of the country’s largest exporters of raw tobacco leaf.

It is listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange and employs around 350 people in various roles.

Samira Irfan said that her company is a strong supporter of a well-functioning track and trace system to improve the governance and competitiveness of the Pakistani tobacco market.

For many years, the market has been plagued by tax evasion, counterfeit products and illegal imports from abroad, she said, adding that this resulted in the loss of fiscal revenue for the government and lack of adequate consumer protection.

She said the illegal practices had also resulted in a disorderly market that deprived local manufacturers the opportunity to compete effectively with the powerful multinational companies.

The KTC has itself faced extreme challenges because of counterfeit production of its products, she said, adding that it was an enormous disappointment to the company that the continued assault of multiple tendering processes via the legal system was sabotaging the crucial progress in the area.