ISLAMABAD - The government has failed to curb the illegal smuggling of cigarettes inside Pakistan that is depriving the national exchequer of billions of rupees, which can be collected from the taxes imposed on sale of cigarette.
It is worth stating here that imported cigarettes through improper channels are banned in the country and only those brands and cigarettes can be sold, those have paid taxes and carry the government of Pakistan’s health warning on it.
Contrary to these orders from the government there are too many imported brands available in the market and the shopkeepers are selling those cigarettes without any worry. Only a single brand ‘Pine’ deprives the national kitty of more than Rs 1 billion per annum, according to a report. It is pertinent to mention here that across the world cigarettes are heavily taxed and the governments collect heavy amounts from the tobacco companies under the head of sales tax. It would also be justified to say that people mostly do not protest against the tax imposed on the cigarettes. As it is not considered basic necessity of a human being though a large number of global residents use tobacco.
Pakistan too can collect handsome amount from the tax on cigarettes but due to loopholes in the system and corrupt practices of most of the government officials, it is unable to collect that much amount that is supposed to be collected.
When asked how do they manage selling illegal smuggled cigarettes, several shopkeepers replied, “We pay them.” It is not the government whom they pay; rather they are talking about the officials appointed to curb such practices.
Certain quarters believe that high-ups should personally visit the markets and suspend the relevant officials if illegal cigarettes are found in the area of some official. At the same time certain quarters believe that curbing illegal trade is not a big deal but it only requires political will.