PM Launches FBR’s Track & Trace System for Sugar Sector

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday launched the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) Track & Trace System for the sugar sector.

Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister called the rollout of the Track & Trace System (TTS) a watershed event in the development of Pakistan’s economy and hoped that it would lead to much-needed economic prosperity in times to come.

“It is an integrated, technology-based solution that shall ensure accurate reporting of production volumes through real time monitoring of manufacturing by the affixation of tax stamps, improve quality control and thus ensure increased revenue collection,” he said.

He said that one of the central tenets of the present government’s economic policy had been to bring about increased digitization and automation of the entire tax apparatus as a means to reduce opportunities for graft, coercion, and theft.

“Track and Trace System will serve as a central pillar of that economic policy and shall revolutionize tax collection across Pakistan,” he added.

The Prime Minister said that the previous governments had made half-hearted attempts to introduce the TTS but despite five attempts over a period of a decade, they were unable to implement the system.

“We too faced a monumental challenge in our attempt to bring about this paradigm shift and a barrage of lawsuits and threats. However, we persevered and were able to counter the legal challenges because of a robust policy and regulatory framework which provided the relevant guidelines for our decision making,” the Prime Minister remarked.

Prime Minister said that at the time of assuming office, the government had inherited a dismal economic situation, and was confronted with multiple challenges.

“Our revenue collection system was one of the weakest in the world, with a chronically low Tax-to-GDP ratio. We were unable to effectively mobilize our own resources for the well-being of the people,” he recalled.

He emphasized that the present government was committed to bringing about change, and putting Pakistan on the path of self-sufficiency and in this regard, the pivotal role of FBR could not be over-emphasized.

“One of our immediate priorities was to identify how to improve monitoring mechanism and increase revenue collection,” he added.

The Prime Minister said that the present government was the first one to break the nexus of tax evaders, vested interests, and mafias.

“We have not been afraid of taking difficult decisions nor shied away from plugging loopholes by enacting legislation that restricts corrupt practices and ensures transparency and fairness,” he added.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Shaukat Tarin, while speaking on the occasion, thanked the Prime Minister for showing keen interest and participating in the inaugural ceremony. He also congratulated FBR on the launch of the project. He also thanked Sugar Mills Association for extending cooperation for making the innovative intervention possible.

“All 78 sugar mills have signed Tri-partite agreements amongst sugar mills, consortium (licensee), and FBR at Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad,” he added.

He assured the Prime Minister that through the introduction of technology in the tax system, FBR will be able to broaden the tax base as efforts were already afoot to collaborate with National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and use artificial intelligence and mathematical modeling to ascertain the potential tax return filers.

Chairman FBR, Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, in his presentation explained the scope and significance of the high valued digital intervention. He also informed the audience that FBR intends to expand the scope of TTS to other key sectors which include beverages, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, and steel, and soon a proposal in this regard will be submitted to Prime Minister for his approval.

He reaffirmed his resolve to maximize efforts to expand digitization to all key sectors in order to ensure transparency, plug leakages, and thus maximize revenue potential.

The ceremony was also attended by cabinet members, parliamentarians, federal secretaries, office bearers of the Sugar Mills Association, and senior officers of FBR.