PM Orders Secretary Finance to Identify Officials Involved in Delaying Track and Trace System

Prime Minister has tasked Secretary Finance Imdad Ullah Bosal to identify officials involved in the delay in implementation of the Track and trace System.

Sources informed ProPakistani that the PM on Friday during this cabinet meeting showed dissatisfaction over the report submitted by the Tariq Bajwa led committee on Track and Trace as it has not identified FBR officials who failed to implement the Track and Trace system.

Sources said that the PM has directed his trustworthy Secretary Finance to identify those responsible; the poor implementation of the project resulted in serious lapses and delays.

The committee was also tasked to determine accountability for failure to integrate the tracking system throughout the supply chain.

Sources said that the FBR partially implemented TTS in Sugar, Cement, Fertilizer, and Tobacco factories due to their alleged collusion with industrialists.

Reportedly, the Bajwa led committee in its findings did not find any wrongdoing in contract award, however the committee attributed delays and poor implementation of TTS project on part of manufacturers and contractors.

Sources informed ProPakistani that problems remain with the FBR management as they did not give priority to this project.

FBR management did not take actions against the manufacturers, even extended dates to implement the TTS, sources added.

Most of the local tobacco companies signed MoU with FBR but did not install the system over their production lines, whereas the multinational tobacco companies implemented the applicators over their production lines, sources added.

Sources further said that FBR went into a dispute with the consortium over granting many concessions regarding import of equipment and setup at plants against the initial design proposed by the consortium.

Meanwhile, the performance of Inland Revenue Enforcement Network (IREN) squads, which formed not only to monitor the stamping machines installed in the premises of manufacturers of specified goods but to examine and authenticate Tax Stamp, remained unsatisfactory as the enforcement teams failed to make seizure of illegal cigarette and unstamped bags of sugar, Fertilizer and cement bags across the country.

The weak enforcement by FBR, including fake stamps goods available in the market, was also highlighted by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif during a cabinet meeting held on Friday.

Sources said that When the PM announced the inquiry, FBR higher management directed its Regional Tax Offices (RTO) to conduct operations against illegal cigarettes and unstamped sugar and fertilizer bags.

The premier also expressed serious reservations about the lack of oversight, supervision and penalties on non-compliant manufacturers which also depicts that FBR’ track and trace as well as IREN squards failed in unauthorized stoppage of production of notified goods.

Recently, former Chairman FBR Shabbar Zaidi in a tv interview also revealed that his government was pressurized specifically by the Sugar Sector not to implement the system adding that he said that Track and Trace System can be a success only when the industries really cooperate with the government.

Sharing details, Shabbar Zaidi maintained that the industry will influence the operation of the system, which is deployed at their premises.

Sources said that the TTS can be successful when the government backed FBR as taxmen are reportedly reluctant to go after the business of powerful industry players who are sitting in Parliament.

The cement sector was reluctant to implement TTS despite the fact that the cement factories have been given training, sources added.

In addition, It is very important to educate the masses and the importance of Track and Trace and how to use it to verify whether the product is original or counterfeit.

Last but not least, the FBR should outsource the enforcement or give the task again to Regional Tax offices (RTOs) as the tax department’ IREN squads remained unsuccessful in verification of tax stamps.

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