More tobacco companies must install Pakistan’s new track-and-trace system to tackle the country’s massive tax evasion problem, according to Project Director Tariq Hussain Shaikh.
Out of the 40-plus companies registered with the Pakistan Tobacco Board, only three—Philip Morris Pakistan, Pakistan Tobacco Co. and Khyber Tobacco—have installed the track-and-trace system that became operational on July 1, reports the Business Recorder.
According to Shaikh, the system has significantly boosted government tax collections in other sectors. In the sugar industry, for example, sales tax collections increased by 34 percent after its implementation at the end of 2021.
Success, however, depends on across-the-board implementation, Shaikh cautioned. Unless more tobacco companies adopt it, the track-and-trace system will not reduce tax evasion, which in Pakistan amounts to PKR80 billion ($335.74 million) per year.
In a letter dated June 30, 2022, Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenue directed all cigarette manufacturers to apply tax stamps to their products from July 1, 2022. Nine tobacco companies have challenged the directive on technical grounds.