The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has seized two truckloads of six million counterfeit cigarettes, causing a loss of over Rs12 million to the national exchequer in federal excise duty and sales tax.
A team of the Regional Tax Office Rawalpindi intercepted two trucks carrying 300 packarites of counterfeited brand ‘Classic’ and 300 packarites of counterfeited brand ‘Kissan’ on Expressway Murree near Lower Topa.
The counterfeit cigarettes were manufactured in the Wayward factory in Muzaffarabad owned by Babar Taj and Babar Naseem and were being transported to other parts of the country when seized in a raid. Lawyers, members of the civil society and students have protested many times in Muzaffarabad against the factory, but the government has yet to initiate action against it.
The locals have also lodged numerous complaints against the factory with Commissioner Inland Revenue Asim Shaukat but a legal action against the owners has yet to be initiated.
Tax evasion under exaggerated numbers of illicit trade
According to the FBR documents, the driver was asked to provide evidence of payment of federal excise duty as envisaged in the Federal Excise Act 2005 and Federal Excise Rule 2005, but no legal document or federal excise invoice was available with the drivers.
The examination of cigarettes shows that 300 packarites containing three million counterfeited cigarettes of ‘Kissan’ brand and 300 packarites containing three million counterfeited cigarettes of ‘classic’ brand was loaded on the trucks.
The FBR said that worth of the seized cigarettes was Rs18.9 million with the tax evasion of around Rs12.6 million in the federal excise duty and sales tax, adding that statements of both the drivers that cigarettes were loaded from truck stand in Muzaffarabad in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and were destined to wholesale market in Rawalpindi.
The FBR has seized the cigarettes along with the vehicles and sent the samples to original brand owners for the confirmation.
No meeting schedules with Indian counterpart: FM Qureshi
The FBR has started a drive against the counterfeit cigarettes across the country following directions from Prime Minister Imran Khan as these cigarettes have been causing billions of rupees loss to the national exchequer through tax evasion.