Standing by: Govt stands helpless as illicit trade grows

From: The Express Tribune

By Farooq Baloch

KARACHI: Despite having a robust regulatory framework, it seems the federation continues to face problems in fighting illicit tobacco trade, which still accounts for more than a quarter of the country’s total cigarette consumption.

Illicit tobacco trade refers to the business of smuggled or counterfeit cigarettes, or other tobacco products that are sold without paying applicable duties and taxes.

Several agencies including Inland Revenue Intelligence, Customs Intelligence, Police, Federal Investigation Agency and the Rangers are fighting this menace. This illegal business, however, accounts for 25% of the country’s total cigarette sales, according to an international study titled ‘Asia-11: Illicit Tobacco Indicator 2012’.

Illicit cigarette trade cost the exchequer $275 million in fiscal year 2013 (FY13), the report said. Pakistan’s legal domestic sales, it said, declined notably to 64 billion cigarettes in 2012 compared with 70 billion sticks in 2009.

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