ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif while taking notice of delays in the implementation of Trace and Track System (TTS) in tobacco, sugar, cement and fertilizer industries on Monday ordered immediate action against tax defaulters and evaders.

The premier issued directives to the authorities concerned to form a committee to identify the hurdles in the implementation of TTS and those involved in tax theft within seven days.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Off­i­ce (PMO) stated that the meeting was also attended by federal ministers Muh­a­mmad Aurangzeb and Ahad Cheema, Planning Commission Deputy Chai­rman Jehanzaib Khan, FBR Chairman Malik Amjad Zubair Tiwana and other senior officials.

The prime minister asked the officials about the reasons for the delay and said the system should have been made functional in major industries in the last two years.

Says track and trace should have been enabled in large industries two years ago

He said all legal impediments in the enforcement of the track and trace system should be removed.

The system should be enforced at all production lines of cement factories, and factories that resist the action should be immediately sealed, the PM ordered.

Besides increasing the revenue, TTS could be utilised to “curb counterfeit and substandard products”, the PM said and ordered actions against fake and unregistered cigarettes.

The meeting was told that the system was fully functional in 14 tobacco factories, whereas 12 others had been sealed for non-compliance.

The system was fully functional in all fertiliser industries, while there were some technical issues in implementing the TTS in sugar and cement factories, which were being addressed.

The FBR signed a contract in 2021 to operationalise the TTS in tobacco, cement, sugar and fertiliser sectors.

An official statement back then claimed that the system would include “im­p­lementation of a rob­ust, nationwide, electronic monitoring system of production volumes by affixation of more than five billion tax stamps on various products at the production stage”.

Action against smuggling

PM Shehbaz lamented that the country was already facing a precarious economic situation, and the mafia was causing losses for the national kitty.

To address the issues, the prime minister Shehbaz ordered the formation of a committee to identify hurdles in the system’s implementation.

The committee, which will submit its report in seven days, has also been tasked with presenting a proposal for enforcing automatic tax systems in large factories and industries.

The PM issued directives to seek help from international institutions to implement the TTS.

The prime minister also sought a comprehensive digital strategy to automate the entire system and ordered the authorities concerned to curb smuggling and that law enforcement agencies should assist FBR in this action.

The meeting was apprised that raids were being conducted on godowns across the country to curb smuggling.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2024

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