PM orders action over ‘ineffective’ track, trace system

Published May 8, 2024
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting of the cabinet, on Tuesday.—PPI
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting of the cabinet, on Tuesday.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Sheh­baz Sharif on Tuesday ordered stern action against the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) officials, including its former chairman, allegedly involved in the installation of an ‘ineffective’ track and trace system (TTS) in various industries, causing losses to the tune of billions of rupees through tax evasion and smuggling.

The decision to proceed against tax officials was made in light of an inquiry report submitted to the prime minister during a meeting about the FBR. The report was prepared by a five-member committee headed by former fina­nce secretary Tariq Bajwa.

“The FBR chairman working during that tenure (when the TTS was introduced) was also held responsible for the poor administrative supervision,” said a press release.

It may be noted Dr Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed was serving as the FBR chief when the track and trace system was installed to monitor production in cigarette, fertilisers, sugar, and cement industries. It also aimed to identify counterfeit products and end smuggling.

20-member delegation from Japanese firms to arrive soon

PM Shehbaz said that due to “faulty” planning and the negligence in its enforcement, the economy suffered.

He asked why certain important provisions were neglected regarding the enforcement of the significant national project.

According to the inquiry report, the project director and the member operations inland were found “guilty of neglect”.

The report also fixed primary responsibility on the subsequent officials working on those posts.

Saudi investment

PM Shehbaz also chaired a cabinet meeting which largely focused on the potential Saudi investments, with the premier saying the visit of the Sau­di investors to Islam­abad was a “significant headway” in the ties between Islamabad and Riyadh.

The cabinet also allo­w­­ed Air Sial to start its fli­g­­ht operations to China, Ma­­laysia, Sri Lanka, Thai­land, Turkiye, the UK, and Kuwait under the Nat­ional Aviation Policy 2023 and Air Services Agreement.

It gave a nod to an MoU [memorandum of understanding] for the formation of a joint trade committee between Pakistan and Cambodia.

The meeting also appro­ved the transfer of the Dire­ctorate General of Special Education from the hu­­man rights ministry to the education ministry. It also endorsed the decisions of the cabinet committee regarding the Chinese investment projects taken on April 30, 2024.

Electric cars

In a separate meeting, Prime Minister Sharif was apprised that Japanese companies have started spadework to produce hybrid cars locally.

The prime minister, in the meeting with a delegation of Japanese companies and business figures in Pakistan led by Japa­nese Ambassador Wada Mitsuhiro, said a committee had been formed to resolve the issues confronting the Japa­n­ese firms to promote their business activities in the country. He said it was high time for both countries to promote trade and investment ties across multiple sectors.

The delegation members expressed confidence in the government’s pro-business policies and mea­sures to promote investment, said a statement.

The Japa­nese ambassador apprised the PM of the upcoming visit of a 20-member delegation from Japanese firms which would prove to be a milestone in enhan­cing the trade.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2024

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