Raza Kazmi

ISLAMABAD: In pursuit to the vision of Prime Minister to curb the menace of trade of counterfeit/non duty paid cigarettes, which are not only hazardous to the health of general public but is also causing huge loss to the Government Exchequer, Federal Board of Revenue has urged the Inland Revenue and Customs Field Formations to beef up the enforcement measures to control the trade of counterfeit, non-duty paid and smuggled cigarettes.
The Chairman FBR has issued directives to expedite the administrative and enforcement measures against the trade of counterfeit, non-duty paid and smuggled cigarettes. Resultantly, during the period July 2020 to January 2021, the IREN network conducted 65 raids across the country to curb the trade of counterfeit/non duty paid cigarettes. In aforesaid raids, 44.827 Million counterfeit cigarettes sticks were confiscated which were worth amounting to Rs. 97.507 Million. Revenue amounting to Rs. 95.678/- was involved in aforesaid confiscated counterfeit cigarettes out of which Rs. 2.2 Million are recovered and for remaining, mandatory legal proceedings are underway.
Similarly, Pakistan Customs has taken number of preventive measures to curb smuggling of cigarettes in particular and other contrabands / goods in general. The Customs staff posted at Airports, Sea Ports and Land Custom Stations have been instructed to be more vigilant to control smuggling of cigarettes. Anti-smuggling Squads, Mobile Units and staff posted at Customs Check Posts have been sensitized to interdict smuggling of cigarettes. In pursuance to specific information, raids have been conducted on godowns wherein cigarettes and other smuggled goods have been stored and thus huge quantities have been recovered.
The auction rules have been modified thus imposing ban on the auction of seized/smuggled cigarettes and have been included in the list of goods to be destroyed w.e.f. 23rd July,2020 to discourage the use of auction papers for transport of smuggled cigarettes. Trainings / seminars have been arranged in coordination with leading cigarette manufacturers to educate the Customs officers / staff about latest trends in smuggling of cigarettes and also sharing of information for effective seizure of cigarettes.
Since July 2020 to January 2021, Pakistan Customs has seized quantity of 7,152,265 smuggled sticks of cigarettes having value of Rs. 549 million.
Meanwhile, Model Customs Collectorate (A&F), Peshawar at Customs Station, Torkham foiled an attempt to smuggle Arms and Ammunition to Afghanistan in exports consignment. A twenty-two-wheeler trailer loaded with cement bags was scanned at Torkham. The scan report highlighted abnormal images. The exports consignment was then put to thorough examination which led to recovery of 120 Pistols of assorted brands and 43500 rounds. The driver of the vehicle has been arrested and FIR is being lodged. Arms are embossed with foreign brands which look to be locally made. Further investigation is under way.