Track and trace system needs to be modernized

The track and trace system that Pakistan has put in place is supposed to cut down any possibilities of illicit trade of cigarettes in Pakistan. However, multinational cigarette companies have invented modern methods to carry on this trade across borders. Hence, there is a need to put in place more stringent mechanisms to curb this menace, recommended Capital Calling, a network of academic researchers and professionals. 

It stated that a recent statement by British American Tobacco (BAT), the largest tobacco manufacturer in the world, has come as a rude shock. In the statement, Jack Bowles, BAT’s Chief Executive, said: “On behalf of BAT, we deeply regret the misconduct arising from historical business activities that led to these settlements, and acknowledge that we fell short of the highest standards rightly expected of us.

“Adhering to rigorous compliance and ethics standards has been, and remains, a top priority for BAT. In recent years we have transformed our compliance and ethics programme, which encompasses sanctions, anti-bribery, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering. The significant steps already taken, as well as the continued refinements to the programme that will be made as part of these settlements, will leave us even better equipped to lead a responsible and sustainable business.”

This statement is, however, an attempt at sugar-quoting the bitter reality of illicit trade of cigarettes across borders by these multinational companies. The matter has been duly reported by BBC and almost all other leading global media outlets. The world’s largest tobacco company had continued illicit trade of cigarettes with North Korea for over a decade starting from 2007 until it was caught. 

It is interesting to note that BAT’s subsidiary in Pakistan, namely Pakistan Tobacco Company, has mentioned in its business guidelines that it is against illicit trade. It is hard to find a mention of the international fraud that PTC’s parent company BAT committed and apologized for upon detection. 

Capital Calling believes that the government should go an extra mile to counter possibility of such illicit trade by multinational companies in Pakistan as the track and trace system put in place means only to stop the conventional ways of such trade.

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