ISLAMABAD: Collectorate of Customs Collector Zulfiqar Ali Chaudhry has said that Islamabad Collectorate can assist the Inland Revenue officials whenever required to intercept the inflow of non-duty-paid cigarettes from Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) under Section 24 of the Federal Excise Act 2005.
Talking to Customs Today in an exclusive interview, he said that smuggling of cigarettes is very harmful to taxpaying tobacco manufacturers who are legally operating in Pakistan. He said that cigarette manufacturers are paying very high duty and taxes so it is very essential to protect their rights by seizing smuggled and illicit cigarettes as well as tax evasion.
He said that the Collectorate has written a letter to Inland Revenue Department for following the Section 24 which says that all officers of police and customs, sales tax, the civil armed forces and all officers of government engaged in the collection of land‑revenue, and all village officers shall assist the federal excise officers in the execution of this act as and when required by such officers.
The Collector informed that mostly non-federal excise duty (FED) paid cigarettes manufactures have been shifting their business from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) to Azad Jammu Kashmir.
He added that those who are manufacturing cigarettes in AJK are paying duty taxes to AJK government but they get cleared dozens of consignments on showing one GD which cause huge tax evasion and the practice showed lack of enforcement in AJK to prevent illegal smuggling of non-duty-paid cigarettes.
Telling details of cigarettes manufacturing industry in AJK, he said that there are six manufacturing units working in Mirpur and Bhimber which badly affected tariff area of the country because they do not pay FED on cigarettes which is causing a negative impact on competition as well as on revenue of the country.
Talking on the issue of the cigarettes smuggling into the country, he said that cigarettes smuggling is a very serious problem and the fake cigarettes are health hazardous as well as harmful for the revenue.
He added that Pakistan Customs is following a robust strategy to curb the menace of cigarettes smuggling by adopting measures, i.e. to chocking the well-known routs of the cigarettes smuggling across the country as well as conducting raids on the dumping places of cigarettes in the country and has developed more effective liaison with other law enforcement agencies to curb cigarettes smuggling into the country.