» » » Illicit tobacco and cigarette trade: Haroon for expanding scope of regional enforcement hubs - BR

via Business Recorder

ISLAMABAD: Haroon Akhtar Khan, special assistant to the prime minister on revenue, on Friday directed IR Enforcement Network of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to expand the scope of regional enforcement hubs to check illicit tobacco and cigarette trade in the country. 

Sources said that Tanvir Akhtar, Chief Commissioner Inland Revenue Regional Tax Office (RTO) Rawalpindi, who is also central coordinator of IR Enforcement Network on illicit tobacco/cigarette trade, gave detailed briefing to Haroon on performance of “IR Enforcement Network” at FBR House. 

The presentation was also attended by top FBR officials including FBR Chairman Dr Muhammad Irshad and Khawaja Tanveer Ahmed, DG Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation. 

According to sources, Haroon appreciated that the “IR Enforcement Network” has shown remarkable performance is a very short span of time. The network has been recently established which has launched national drive against the illicit trade. 

The Regional Enforcement hubs should also be established at areas of Multan and Bhawalpur etc to intensify the drive against the illicit tobacco/cigarette trade. 

He promised to provide more logistics and resources to the said network for carrying out enforcement actions across the country. 

It was appreciated that the presentation of Tanvir Akhtar would also be shared with donor agencies and other international organizations to highlight enforcement actions of FBR within the tobacco sector. 

It was informed that the FBR has notified establishment of “IR Enforcement Network”- a central/nucleus enforcement cell at Rawalpindi and Islamabad directly reporting to the FBR Member IR Operations. 

The broad roles of the enforcement network included identifying core stakeholders of the sector, conducting discrete market survey, providing legal advice to the field formations compatible tax analysis, plugging existing loopholes, coordination and highlighting raids and seizure in the media. 

The details of the Terms and Reference of IR Enforcement Network revealed that there shall be a central/nucleus enforcement cell at Rawalpindi/Islamabad, directly reporting to M-IR (Operations). 

The role of Central Enforcement Cell revealed identification of core stakeholders in cigarette/tobacco sector with reference to tax contribution, evasion of Duty/Taxes, tax jurisdiction and revenue generation. Secondly, how to conduct discreet Market Survey (by RTOs) so as to ascertain the market share of local brands/manufacturers and smuggled/counterfeit cigarette. Thirdly, the comparative tax analysis of the local manufacturers vis-à-vis their actual market’s share. Fourthly, it would identify existing loopholes in the movement of illegal cigarettes, modes and routes of illegal trade. 

The role of Central Enforcement Cell further cover the role of different tax authorities in combating illicit cigarette trade: SWOT Analysis. 

It would be engaged in the development of strategy to combat illegal cigarette trade in Pakistan, especially to address foreign non-duty paid/counterfeit brands, locally manufactured non-tax paid cigarettes, dumping by AJK cigarette manufacturers, cigarette manufacturing in non-taxable territories i.e. FATA/PATA, tracking Alternate/mobile cigarette manufacturing facilities, monitoring of dormant cigarette manufacturing units, pooling of IR resources (human and physical) for joint enforcement initiatives and highlight details of raids and seizures in the national print and electronic media through coordination with FATE wing, FBR. 

The Central Enforcement Cell would also maintain close liaison with other departments/agencies working against illicit tobacco/cigarette trade; formulate budgetary proposals on the subject; strengthening of field squads and regional enforcement hubs; development & circulation of case studies and success stories and input and professional assistance in cases involving litigation and archiving and documentation of all cases of raids/seizures and confiscation of illicit tobacco/cigarette. 

Under the plan, all RTOs and LTUs shall establish/notify (under intimation to Central Enforcement Cell) their respective field enforcement squads, to be headed by an officer of BS-17/18 with 4/5 members of BS-16. Primarily this squad will be responsible for the laid down functions & operations. 

All RTOs and LTUs shall be engaged in the education & taxpayer’s facilitation of traders at major commercial hubs to sensitise them about the legal & penal repercussions of any involvement in the illicit tobacco/cigarette trade. They would conduct raids on shops/ mega stores/malls illegal ware houses and undeclared go-downs used for parking, storage and sale of non tax/duty paid cigarettes. 

All RTOs and LTUs shall be engaged in monitoring of major distributors of local brands originating from KPK and AJK based manufacturers. They would also intercept movement of illegal cigarettes both local as well smuggled brands and keep close liaison with the concerned Directorate I&I-IR and Regional Enforcement Hub for coordinated efforts aiming at combating this illicit trade and initiation of criminal prosecution proceedings against the persons/concerns involved in this nefarious activity. 

For an effective, efficient and coordinated enforcement action this IR Enforcement Network shall maintain the following regional enforcement hubs. Field formations coordinating these regional hubs are designated: 

Enforcement Hub South: covering LTUs and RTOs at Karachi, the regional enforcement coordinator would be CCIR RTO-II Karachi. In case of Enforcement Hub Sindh: covering RTOs Hyderabad and Sukkur, the regional enforcement coordinator would be CCIR RTO Hyderabad. The Enforcement Hub Balochistan: covering the whole of Balochistan, the regional enforcement coordinator would be CCIR RTO Quetta. 

For the Enforcement Hub South Punjab: covering RTOs Multan and Bahawalpur, Regional Enforcement Coordinator would be CCIR RTO Multan. 

In case of Enforcement Hub Central Punjab: covering RTOs Faisalabad and Sargodha, Regional Enforcement Coordinator would be Director I&I-IR Faisalabad. 

Director I&I-IR Lahore would work as regional enforcement coordinator for Enforcement Hub Lahore: covering LTU and RTOs Lahore, Gujranwala and Sialkot. 

For enforcement Hub Islamabad: covering LTU Islamabad and RTOs Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Abbotabad, regional enforcement coordinator would be CCIR RTO Rawalpindi. 

In case of Enforcement Hub KPK: covering the whole of KPK, Director I&I-IR Peshawar has been assigned to work as the regional enforcement coordinator. 

Operational Dynamics: IR Enforcement Network revealed whenever and wherever any raid, interception or sealing of any tobacco/cigarette godown/warehouse is warranted the Regional Squad shall conduct a discreet ground check and initial field intelligence home work. If any legal/technical advice is required concerned Chief Commissioner may consult Central Enforcement Cell through personal email communication. 

Whenever approached by RTO/LTU squads in his respective enforcement hub, the officer in charge of regional enforcement hub (Part-2 (III) above) shall ensure that workforce and logistics available with all the field squads are pooled for an effective action. The command of any action would, however, rest with the concerned field formation, planning the enforcement action. 

Field squads or coordinators regional enforcement hubs may approach Central Enforcement Cell any time before or after the action not only for technical assistance, professional guidance but for reinforcement of mobility as well (operational vehicles on as and when required basis), FBR added.

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