Only two out of the more than 40 cigarette manufacturers in Pakistan have properly implemented the country’s track-and-trace system, according to British American Tobacco, reports The Nation.
Speaking during a media briefing organized by the Pakistan Tobacco Company (PTC) in Islamabad, BAT’s area head of legal and external affairs for the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions, Mona Iskandarani, stressed the importance of timely implementation and enforcement of the track-and-trace system.
“We acknowledge the recent enforcement initiatives undertaken by the Federal Board of Revenue in Pakistan but we need sustained enforcement efforts across the supply chain to curb the menace of illicit cigarette trade in Pakistan,” said Iskandarani.
PTC’s legal and external affairs director, Asad Shah, pointed out that while track-and-trace systems have been implemented in various countries, the system does not offer a silver bullet. Rather, it serves as a tool to facilitate law enforcement agencies to carry out raids and seizures of tax evaded products, he said.
Despite a lapse of 15 months since the implementation deadline, only two out of over 40 cigarette manufacturers have implemented the track-and-trace in true letter and spirit, Shah lamented. Instead of declining, tax evasion has grown in the tobacco sector since the system became mandatory, he said.
The share of illicit cigarette sales is projected to grow from 37 percent of the market in fiscal 2021-2022 to approximately 63 percent by the end of fiscal 2023-2024, potentially causing the government lose PKR310 billion ($1.08 billion) in tax revenues in fiscal 2023-2024.