Several tobacco companies are challenging Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in court, seeking relief from the country’s new track-and-trace system, according to reports in The International News and Dawn.
Starting this month, all tobacco companies operating in Pakistan must implement the country’s track-and-trace system. Tobacco products may enter the domestic market only if they carry stamps and unique identification markers.
To date, only three tobacco manufacturers—Pakistan Tobacco Co., Philip Morris International and Khyber Tobacco Co. (KTC)—have installed the track-and-trace system and made it operational. KTC Chief Technology Officer Shahid Sattar said the system would help the company enhance its presence in the Pakistani market and improve the quality of its products to international standards.
The companies challenging the FBR want to continue selling old stock. The agency instructed them to discontinue such sales on June 30.
The tobacco companies that are already operating the system maintain that it will succeed only if all players implement it. According to critics, the companies challenging the FBR instructions engage in illicit trade and fear the track-and-trace system will expose their illegal activities.
In addition to the multinationals, there are at least 21 tobacco companies operating in Pakistan, including 18 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and three in the country’s federally and provincially administrated tribal areas.
Out of the PKR134 billion ($645.47 million) in taxes collected from the tobacco industry in 2020, PKR131 was paid by two companies, which together held a 65 percent market share.