An estimated Rs 1.63 billion non-duty paid cigarette sticks and raw material of illicit sector worth billions of rupees were seized last year as (FBR) Federal Board of Revenue’s Inland Revenue Enforcement Network (IREN) completes one year of its successful countrywide operations against the illegal tobacco trade.
Statistics suggest that illicit tobacco trade in Pakistan had risen to an alarming extent to dent the legal tobacco industry. Resultantly, the pervasive tobacco black market was causing a loss of an estimated Rs 40 billion to the national kitty, annually.
By the end of 2016, the market share of legitimate and illegal cigarette trade in Pakistan stood at 60 per cent and 40 per cent respectively in Pakistan. Responding to this grave scenario, the FBR constituted a special enforcement network named as IREN in a bid to tighten noose around foreign smuggled non-duty paid as well as locally manufactured tax evaded cigarettes.
Since 2017, the IREN launched major crackdowns in different cities throughout Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). It shut down illegal cigarette manufacturers and recovered huge chunk of locally manufactured tax evaded and counterfeit cigarettes. In addition, the IREN also launched extensive raids on the godowns of influential tobacco traders who had dumped in bulk large cache of foreign smuggled cigarettes. Till date, illegal cigarettes worth billions of rupees have been recovered as result of crackdown on illicit tobacco sector.
Under IREN-led drive, the FBR’s field formations including Intelligence and Investigation-Inland Revenue (I&I-IR) and Regional Tax Offices (RTOs) worked in coordination against the illicit tobacco manufacturers and traders in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Peshawar, Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Sahiwal, Attock, Muzaffarabad, Mirpur and other major cities of Pakistan and AJK that were regarded as hub of illicit tobacco.